With all of the recent publicity surrounding the safety of Chinese imports, some Americans are expressing newfound concern over the reliability of products with the “Made in China” label.

After tainted pet food containing Chinese wheat gluten killed dozens of animals and sickened several thousand more, worries over the safety Chinese food products gained national headlines.

More recently, the discovery of toothpaste containing industrial poison, and a recall of contaminated seafood has many consumers and lawmakers concerned.

According the U.S. Department of agriculture, just over 1 percent of imported food is inspected before coming into the U.S., but nearly one-third of all food imports come from China.

That fact has many consumers and lawmakers questioning whether the Food and Drug Administration is taking the proper precautions, and has many locals double-checking before purchasing certain items.

Tahlequah resident Toni Bailey expressed her apprehension over Chinese food products.

“I have a real problem with importing foods from China,” said Bailey. “Since they contaminated pet food in order to increase protein levels, then who is to say they aren’t doing it with human food? The effects may not be immediate because we are not eating it day in, day out like the pets are; however, there certainly could be some long-term problems later on.”

Tahlequah resident Shaun West thinks cost is a big reason these imports are so common.

“I think the products are not checked as thoroughly – especially food, but price talks,” said West. “If we can get it cheaper, then we’ll sacrifice a little on quality.”

Bailey also noted politics might play a role in this issue.

“As I understand it, importing grains from other countries is political, an effort to keep these ‘poorer’ countries solvent,” Bailey said.

Adding to the confusion, China recently suspended imports from several large U.S. meat producers – including frozen chicken from Tyson Foods, which Chinese officials said was contaminated with salmonella.

According to Chinese officials, the banned meats have been contaminated with veterinary drugs, feed additives, and salmonella.

Regardless of whether it is an attempt by Chinese officials to turn the tables on U.S. food recalls and suspensions, it comes on the heels of China’s attempts to improve the reputation of its products and the recent execution of the former drug regulation agency, Zheng Xiaoyu.

While food is at the center of the import scandal, so are many other products.

In a story for the New York Times, journalist Nick Timiraos reported several other products were on the list of recalled Chinese products last month.

Timiraos wrote that there were also: “... about 450,000 defective tires and 1.5 million toy-train parts with high lead content.”

Though concerns over Chinese imports remains at a high level, the FDA urges consumers not to overreact.

As for Bailey, she plans to pay closer attention to any purchases she makes – for herself and her pets.

“I read labels a lot, and I try very hard to purchase only food products produced in the U.S.,” said Bailey. “I certainly will not buy dog treats or even chew toys made outside the US.”

Contact Garron Marsh at gmarsh@tahlequahdailypress.com.

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