The feds are trying to get the Chinese to pay more attention to food safety.
Why is this even necessary? Because, as the Washington Post reported over the weekend:
Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical.
Frozen catfish laden with banned antibiotics.
Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria.
Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.
These were among the 107 food imports from China that the Food and Drug Administration detained at U.S. ports just last month, agency documents reveal, along with more than 1,000 shipments of tainted Chinese dietary supplements, toxic Chinese cosmetics and counterfeit Chinese medicines.
Oh, and don't think you can brush your teeth and hope for the best; contaminated toothpaste was on the list.
Coordinating Homeland Insecurity, Ag Department and FDA efforts--the job of our new Food Safety Czar--isn't made any easier by systematic, institutional denial that there's even a problem (an upbeat article on Chinese "progress" in Ag's Amber Waves magazine), insufficient funding for inspections and general indifference at the highest levels of government. Economist Paul Krugman, in the New York Times, blames the Bush administration's laissez-faire approach: willful and deliberate neglect.
Seriously: safe food shouldn't be sacrificed on the altar of free-market ideology. By all means, go after Chinese poisoners, but don't forget about the distributors of dirty California spinach.