China has a lot more input into the lives of Americans than the clothes on our backs and the shoes on our feet, according to media reports triggered by the purchase of Smithfield Foods by a Chinese pork producer.
US consumers worried that Shauanghui’s $4.7-billion pending buyout of Smithfields might somehow lead to a kind of reverse-osmosis of China’s tainted food into American supermarkets actually do have some reason to be concerned about Chinese food safety standards.
Turns out China exports 4.1 billion pounds of food each year to the US, according to the Department of Agriculture. Shockingly China — seen as a crowded and polluted land — exports 80% percent of the tilapia we eat, 10% of our frozen spinach and a shocking 50% of our apple juice. In fact, the US is China’s largest market for apple juice.
China exports a great deal of fruit and vegetables, though mostly to neighboring countries in Southeast Asia, Japan and S. Korea.
Americans have more reason to be concerned about the substantial amount of Chinese exports of food additives and seasoning like soy sauce, the candy sweetener cylitol, artificial vanilla and folic acid than about tainted pork.
As for pork products, China isn’t allowed to export fresh meats to the US because of its recent outbreaks of hoof and mouth disease. If it gets its way, it will soon be able to export poultry to the US, though.