WHO: China’s food safety system
WHAT: So far, four infants have died and some 53,000 children have fallen ill from contaminated Chinese powdered milk and baby formula. More than a dozen countries have banned or recalled Chinese dairy products in response and food safety czar Li Changjiang has resigned in disgrace.
WHY IT’S HAPPENING: China’s product-safety system is totally inadequate to monitor the world’s fastest-growing manufacturing economy. This milk scandal is only the latest fiasco, after prior scares from toxic toys and pet food.
WHY IT MATTERS TO AMERICA: Although we don’t import China’s milk products, that country is the third-leading supplier of food to the U.S. (after Mexico and Canada) and the second-biggest supplier of fish. In 2007, our imports of Chinese food products increased 346 percent to 1.83 million tons. So eat hearty! And by the way, the number of FDA-registered drug and vitamin manufacturers in China has nearly tripled to almost 1,300.