On Tuesday, November 11, we wrote this story, " Food Safety Memo: U.S. President-Elect Obama Said to Plan On Beefing Up FDA Enforcement, Regulations; Speculation Rampant On New FDA Chief about plans by the incoming U.S. President Barack Obama and his administration to take action to beef up the regulatory powers and enforcement activity of the U.S. Food & Drug Administration (FDA) once he assumes office in 72 days.
On Tuesday we also wrote this analysis piece, "Food Safety Memo: Maybe the Chinese Government Needs to Look to its Minority Muslim Population for Food Safety Advice and Expertise?" suggesting a potential solution for the Government of China to its chronic and serious food safety problems.
Late today both of our Tuesday stories sort of came together from a public policy standpoint. To the surprise of many observers, the U.S. federal government announced today it would start detaining all imported food products from China that contain milk, such as candy, snacks, bakery goods, pet foods and other Chinese products that contain milk, and hold there there until tests demonstrate the products aren't contaminated with melamine or anything else.
Below are a number of news reports on the surprise announcement by the U.S. federal government:
~New York Times, November 13, 2008: FDA Detains Chinese Imports for Testing
~Washington Post, November 13, 2008: US Blocks Chinese Milk
~Others: The Citizen Daily - BBC News - CNN International - The Epoch Times
This development could have some serious political and economic implications between the U.S. and China. After all, China is buying most of the government securities the U.S. is issuing as fast as the government printing presses can produce the notes to pay for the nation's $700 billion financial industry bailout, the economic stimulus package, two wars and a host of other programs and operational activities. China in affect is currently the United State's number one banker.
The way China earns the money to be the banker to the U.S. is from exporting goods. And the U.S. is China's number one market. As a result, China might not be pleased about the new U.S. policy of detaining its exported food and beverage products containing milk at the border. Bankers can get angry without much provoking these days, especially when that banker has a silent agreement with the nation's superpower, the U.S., to be its financier in return for lax trade enforcement policies.
We agree with the U.S. federal government's move though. After all, why risk death and illness from these tainted milk products, which have killed four children in China and sickened thousands there and in other Asian nations. Numerous countries like Japan and Australia have slapped complete bans on Chinese milk-based products in fact because of the melamine contamination.
We also think the move by the U.S., which will anger China initially, will act as a shot in the arm in terms of further motivating the Communist government to fix its food safety system. That's something that's overdue for the world's fastest-growing economy.