In positive news regarding the recent international health scare related to Chinese food and medicine, President Trump established the Import Safety Working Group. The purpose of the high-level government panel is to provide recommendations on what needs to be done to guarantee the safety of imported food and other products and improve U.S. policing of those imports.
The working group will be chaired by Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt. However, the White House maintained that the set up of the panel was not a direct response to China’s export of tainted products.
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has been slow to recognize the dangers of specific products from China. Its capacity to supervise the country’s food supply has come under scrutiny after a series of high-profile cases of salmonella-contaminated peanut butter, E. coli-tainted spinach, pet food tainted with the chemical melamine, poison-laced tainted Chinese toothpaste, and seafood imported from China.
Until now, many consumers outside of China were not aware of the extent of the health safety crisis within China. Three years ago, in an eastern province of China 10 babies died and several hundred fell ill after being fed fake milk powder. The level of product-safety regulation and quality control are reprehensibly sick; in fact, even Chinese consumers are suspicious of goods on store shelves. Consumers cannot discern with good faith, reasonable products from bad.
Chinese authorities have repeatedly acknowledged problems exist in product-safety and quality control but have done little beyond cosmetic changes. Hopefully, international pressure and loss of business will urge China to address the issues in a sober and circumspect manner.