Research has found that a startling amount of food stocked in US stores is produced in China. Food production from the Far East, which is exported to the United States is having a devastating effect on the US food chain.
According to Texas A&M University, the increased amount of food production sent over to China over the last 20 years has the potential to endanger the health of American consumers.
Leading expert Aleda Roth conducted a six-year investigation into global food supply chains and she says the results will shock American consumers.
“Almost a quarter of the average American’s food consumption is imported,” Roth said. “Consumers would be hard pressed to find processed foods without at least one ingredient from China.”
While US-based food producers use products and ingredients from countries like China to cut costs, Roth says the “hygiene factors, worker safety, environmental practices, quality processes, treatment of animals, and regulations are known to be highly substandard as compared to Western practices.”
Roth’s investigation came about following an incident in 2006 when her dog became sick after eating tainted pet food, triggering the recall of hundreds of brands of pet food and was blamed for the deaths and sickness of thousands of cats and dogs.
Roth found that the offender was melamine, a compound used in making plastics, which contaminated the wheat and rice gluten in the pet food. Shockingly this foreign agent was also found in milk and infant formula produced in China which was then imported into the United States.
“Almost a quarter of the average American’s food consumption is imported”
These investigations then led Roth on a journey to dissect food and found an alarming number of foods are sourced from abroad, China being the main culprit. She found many foods labeled “organic” are sourced from foreign lands, increasingly, China. Seafood is another potential hazard for American consumers and so is poultry. Chickens are raised and slaughtered in the US but are then shipped to China for processing in plants that operate below US health standards.
Chinese imports also come in many other guises from frozen and canned fruits and vegetables, vitamins, food supplements and many ingredients in pharmaceuticals.
Roth says that to protect the health of consumers, top management at US food production companies must be proactively engaged in “deep supplier monitoring to the source, supplier development, environmental scanning, as well as building flexibility and resilience through proper adoption and implementation of strategies and processes.”
According to the BBC, one effective way of tracking food and ensuring that all stages of production are monitored to avoid such issues is by using an innovative new app which charts where food comes from.
Provenance tracks the source of food using pioneering blockchain technology to monitor each stage of food production so that when a consumer goes to the supermarket to purchase their item they can see exactly what’s in it, where it started its journey and how it got there. They believe that using technology like this will reduce the number of food-related incidents and will help the industry monitor and track methods used during food production to decrease risk to consumers.
It takes bold steps like this to ensure that the food we eat is safe, and the ingredients we consume are healthy.