Use Free Trade To Promote Food Safety

National Journal has an interesting article about the intersection of free trade and globalization with increased food safety abroad and at home. Rather than reject shipments of Chinese fish for being raised in disgusting environments, the US should require trading partners to set and enforce their own strict food safety standards and use globalization as a way to promote better standards worldwide, instead of a race to the bottom.

Food Safety Offers A Trade Policy Opportunity [National Journal]
(Photo: Mr. Oliver)


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  1. Sure I could agree with you, but then we'd BOTH be wrong. says:

    Get your Seafood from China. Now, with twice as much Mercury as the leading nation’s fish farms…. Almost double the US Recommended Daily Allowance of pollutants!

    • ExtraCelestial says:

      @Dooley: With all the mercury found in energy efficient lightbulbs (and no one really seeming to want to resolve it) that may just be an issue we’ll have to address with our own fish in the not too distant future.

  2. DWalk says:

    Ha! “Chinese Poisson Train” for tainted fish…

    I love Consumerist… Go Alex!

  3. sonneillon says:

    That’s kind of deceptive though. Think of it these terms supplier a boat registered out of Panama with a Dutch Captain fishing sword off of the coast of Africa, ports in Miami with Cuban truckers who take it to a processing facility in Colorado who takes it with sword from 5 other ships. Where is that swordfish from? According to our facility and the cool act the sword is from Miami. And while there is some seafood that comes from China, the other Asian countries usually have better stuff at better prices.

  4. Jeremy82465 says:

    Did they start painting their fish with led based paint? I havent heard of a chinese seafood scare

    • Jeremy82465 says:

      @Jeremy82465: or you know, lead . . . my kingdom for an edit button!

    • sonneillon says:

      @Jeremy82465: No but their seafood farms are pretty shabby, but they are not the worst offenders. I would say the worst offenders in terms of poor farming practices is the EU for their handling of the Mediterranean, and Chile for putting too many chemicals into their salmon farms.

      Australia and New Zealand have some of the best seafood practices.

    • fatcop says:

      @Jeremy82465: Chinese farm raised shrimp are basically farmed in open-air sewers.

      • sonneillon says:

        @fatcop: That’s true but shrimp eat pretty much anything so even shrimp that are not farmed are going to eat funky stuff.

  5. sirwired says:

    Good luck with getting China to actually enforce food safety laws. After the arrest (and suicide) of several officials for tainting pet food, several months later they get caught spiking baby formula instead.

    This is not to say the U.S. never did this kind of crap, just that pretending China properly enforces food and drug safety laws is wishful thinking.

  6. econobiker says:

    “the US should require trading partners to set and enforce their own strict food safety standards and use globalization as a way to promote better standards worldwide, instead of a race to the bottom.”

    The race to the bottom is also called “same pricing- lower costs = higher profit” which is the Walmart et al mantra.

    For the “US to require” means that government would have to be for public safety and not business interestes. Which the lobbiests would not like at all…

    If you think it is bad now just wait until the Chinese come calling on the UN to force the US to contribute to cleaning up the environmental manufacturing disaster that China is becoming…

  7. lictor says:

    The “Importer of Record” is often responsible in Europe for CE Marking their imports. The executive who signs off on the CE Mark is responsible for the safety/environmental compliance to EU regulations. If we had a similar law in the US, the importer could be held accountable to assure the product meets minimum domestic standards, or the executive goes to jail. This mechanism allows China and other less developed regions to have lower local safety standards (if they so chose), it requires only that the stuff coming into the US meets our minimum requirements. The threat of executives going to jail has proven to be a great incentive for the EU’s CE Marking program.

  8. tz says:

    The RSS puts the title first, and I know there is a Poisson distribution [] – but it doesn’t involve the Chinese or Trains.

    Did you mean Poison instead of Poisson?

  9. Mecharine says:

    In theory, it would work. In theory , the USSR would have taken over Europe.