| Last week, the Wall Street Journal
reported that country of origin labeling must appear on most fresh food and
meats by September 30. The new requirement was part of the farm bill passed
over the summer, and is geared toward helping the U.S. food industry by
promoting foods made in the U.S.A. The bill exempts processed foods, but
existing packaging rules have generally covered that aspect anyhow.
Boycott Watch believes that considering the outrage
Americans consumers have expressed over lead tainted and other contaminated
Chinese foods, the latest of which is milk and milk byproducts, American
consumers will inherently shun Chinese imported foods. Still, much of that food
will still end up on the shelves at supermarkets and at your table,
Companies which produce processed foods
in the U.S. may still use imported ingredients, yet will be exempt from telling
their consumers about the origin of the ingredients. The same applies to
restaurants which also do not have to disclose the origin of their ingredients.
These businesses tend to work on small margins and make their profits based on
volume, so they have an extra incentive to buy the lowest cost satisfactory
ingredients in order to boost their bottom line. As such, some people may think
they are boycotting China-grown foods for health and safety concerns, yet still
may be eating the very foods they are trying to avoid.
Meanwhile, many Americans who were in China for the
Olympics may have ingested the contaminated food while just enjoying the local
Watch wrote about this previously, but we probably won't know the impact of
consuming local food which may have been made with such ingredients, or worse,
ingredients which are so contaminated they were not fit for export.
China has a poor record with food safety, so the
food labeling requirement will be welcomed by consumers. Boycott Watch predicts
lower demand by consumers for china-grown products, which will surely lead to a
lower wholesale and retail prices based on supply and demand. Since no supplier
wants to loose all their money on such produce, commercial food processors and
restaurants will certainly pick of the consumer slack and savings, thus
negating any significant price reduction. This will create an entirely new set
of consumer issues which the market will address, possibly with a China-Safe
label as was done with Dolphin-safe tuna labels in the 80's.