Imported and domestic food should be held to the same standard

It’s easy to point fingers, to blame others, and not take care of business at home.

Erik Autor of Falls Church, Va., picks up on that theme in a letter to the N.Y. Times today:

"… most of the big food recalls over the last two years have involved domestic products — lettuce and spinach from California (E. coli), ground beef from Iowa (E. coli), canned chili from Georgia (botulism), peanut butter from Georgia (salmonella), chicken pot pies from Missouri (salmonella) and so on.

"Therefore, the proper focus should be on effective enforcement by government agencies and proper quality control procedures and supply chain management by producers for all food products no matter where they originate, the United States or any other country."

I tried to say the same thing to CNN’s Lou Dobbs during the fall 2006 E. coli O157:H7 spinach outbreak. The reporter kept asking about the risks of imported food — consistent with Dobbs’ obsession with illegal immigrants. I kept pointing out we were talking about homegrown produce, and finally asked the reporter if he thought California was a developing country.

And as I said in the July 18, 2007, USA Today,

While it may be "psychologically comforting to blame others," what the U.S. needs is farm-to-fork food safety, said Douglas Powell, director of the International Food Safety Network at Kansas State University. "Imports are a problem. So is food produced in the U.S. One should not distract from another."