COMMENTS: Food Chain Reaction

Yesterday, we noted (text link) that CBS had taken the lead on the food safety story--a Tyndall Search shows that of the 13 food stories filed during the month of April, eight were on CBS.

So now NBC and ABC have a chance to catch up. The immediate concerns are about adulterated vegetable proteins imported from China, where the fertilizer melamine has been added during processing to fake the food's richness. The New York Times' Shanghai-based David Barboza told ABC's Lisa Stark (subscription required) that the practice is "very widespread." She worried that spiked glutens may be in breads, baked goods, pasta and granola bars. NBC's Tom Costello reported that spiked feed has been consumed by pigs in six states and by poultry in Indiana. Some 3m of those chickens may already have been eaten by humans.

For the wider picture, both reporters looked at the Food & Drug Administration's safety procedures. Costello covered Congressional hearings into the FDA's lack of inspectors. Stark took A Closer Look at the need for enhanced FDA testing of all sorts of food imports from China, whose volume has doubled since 2002, "everything from vegetables to candy." The FDA now relies on inspection by the exporting country. "That is a recipe for disaster," Stark concluded with a corny pun and the lazy qualifier "some say."


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