“You’ve got poison in your pet food!”
“Oh, yeah? Well you’ve got ants in your pistachios.”
That’s the latest round of calm, reasonable international dialog between the U.S. and China, after greedy criminals in China sent us poison as a pet food additive. That was not a direct result of Beijing government policy, but a product- according to the New York Times and others- of official regulation failing to keep up with runaway economic growth.
After the pet poison was exposed, the United States found and turned away other unsafe imports from China. The Chinese decided that two can play this game, and rejected a U.S. shipment of pistachio nuts.
(A) state television report, which showed inspectors wearing face masks and sealing the shipping container that held the pistachios, indicated an increasing push to show that other countries also have food safety issues. On Friday, Chinese food safety watchdog announced that shipments of health supplements and raisins from the U.S. had been returned or destroyed because they did not meet quality control standards.
“Whatever the motives are for this, if it’s real, we want to know about it,” said David Acheson, assistant commissioner for food protection at the FDA.
An international outcry about China’s safety record has the government worried that its goods could be banned from overseas markets. The country’s dismal drug safety record was underscored this week by a Chinese court’s decision to sentence to death the country’s former top drug regulator.
That sentence- which may or may not be carried out- seemed to show the Chinese are very serious, as both our countries should be, about keeping harmful products off the market. But if shipments are turned away by either side without solid grounds to do so, relations could turn hostile. And that would be very bad for a world where too much hostility is already traded, among nations that should have more important things to do.