The Jungle, Sinclair’s 1906 landmark expose of the U.S. meat packing industry’s filth, created such public outrage that reforms were passed, and ultimately the Food and Drug Administration was created to serve as a public watchdog over food purity. But – Oh, Upton – if only you could see how pathetically feeble FDA has become!
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Food fifth is back with a vengeance: scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria; prunes with chemical dyes not fit for human consumption; frozen shrimp preserved with a cancer-causing agent.
These stomach-turning (and deadly) foodstuffs are not products from American processing factories – but from China. With the likes of Wal-Mart scouring the world for the cheapest possible products it can find, China is the fastest-growing source of U.S. food imports, flooding our markets with products unfit to eat. “Low-priced” food, you see, can come at a horrendously high cost.
So, where’s our watchdog?
FDA’s been reduced to a toothless yard dog. The Wal-Marts don’t want fussy inspectors interfering with the smooth flow of their Chinese imports, so the Bushites and Congress have seen to it that only about one-half of one percent of foreign food shipments even gets checked. When FDA inspectors do find a container of contaminated food, it’s simply returned to the Chinese shipper – and the tainted products are often simply reshipped to our shores, making two or three attempts to get in.
Yet, rather than clamping down at our ports, Bush & Company is about to increase the problem by authorizing companies to import chickens from China. Chickens? Why in hell are our supermarkets going seven thousand miles to get chickens, which America can grow in great abundance and quality in our own backyard? It’s not just sanitation that needs to be addressed. The globalized system itself that must be confronted.
“Food safety on table at China-U.S. trade talks,” Austin American-Statesman, May 21, 2007
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