A few months ago, I received an email asking me to detail the foods in the United States that either come from China or have Chinese ingredients. I very quickly responded that I knew it was many, but that I had absolutely no clue which ones. The reader then responded by saying that I was part of the problem???!!!

Chinese food is proliferating around the world and that means that Chinese food issues are and will be proliferating as well. A Wired Magazine article by Maryn McKenna, entitled, “Food Safety in China, and the Risk to the U.S.,” does a good job describing the issues, but like my email to the irate reader, does little to help us know which foods to avoid.

Many years ago, I used to think China’s quality issues were “an emerging market thing” and not “a China thing.” I thought that we were constantly reading of China quality issues because China is such a large producer. I thought that until I spoke at a China-focused product liability conference and had lunch with a super high level official with the United States Consumer Protection Agency who told me that year and year out, China’s product safety record is at least six times worse on a percentage per product basis than any other country in the world. “Pakistan,” I asked. “Yes,” he said? “Cambodia?” “Yes.” “Sri Lanka?” Yes. “Laos?” “Yes.”  “How can that possibly be,” I asked. “I don’t know,” he said, “but it is.”

Two years ago, co-blogger Steve Dickinson wrote an article for the Wall Street Journal, entitled, “Food Fumble: China Can’t Regulate Away Its Safety Problems.” He received a lot of heat for that article from a number of people who insisted that China’s new regulations would solve its food safety problems and he just needed to give China the chance. China has had its chance and there is no good evidence that things are improving.

It’s bad out there.

What is it going to take for China to clean up its food act? People not eating?

In the meantime, what are you doing to protect yourself?