Recent hearings of a Congressional executive committee into possibly tainted pet food treats coming from China focused mostly on pet food, but there were some interesting bits of information mentioned that has to do with food for human consumption.
“The U.S. is increasingly reliant on imported food,” stated Patty Lovera, assistant director of Food and Water Watch, a non-profit consumer advocacy group.
She said the U.S. General Accounting Office reports that from 2000-2011, the percentage of food consumed in the U.S. that was imported rose from 9 percent to 16 percent. She added food imports increased by an average of 10 percent each year for seven years.
Lovera also told the committee that China is one of the world’s largest argricultural exporters in the world. Citing the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, she said it is the leading producer of apples, tomatoes, peaches, potatoes, garlic, sweet potatoes, pears and peas, just to name a few.
From 2001, the year China joined the World Trade Organization, to 2012, China’s food exports to the U.S. tripled to 4.1 billion pounds.
She also told the committee that in 2011:
•China exported 382.2 million pounds of tilapia to the U.S., which accounted for 80 percent of the fish eaten in America;
•Nearly 370 million gallons of apple juice were imported to the U.S. from China, which amounts to nearly 50 percent of the amount consumed here;
•A little more than half of the 70.7 million pounds of cod imported to the U.S. came from China;
•The 217.5 million pounds of garlic imported from China were 31.3 percent of the amount consumed by Americans;
•The 39.3 million pounds of frozen spinach imported from China represented 11 percent of U.S. consumption.
Lovera also stated the FDA inspects less than 2 percent of imported produce, processed food and seafood. By comparison, from 2004-2009, Japan inspected 15-18 percent of imported food from China, and up to 38 percent of the vegetables imported from that country.