Monday, February 21, 2011

Import Controversy Can Disappear with Mandatory Inspections

There has been recent controversy about Asian imports containing too much lead and other trace minerals. The area of concern ranges from Asian toy manufacturers to Asian medical distributors. Is this a very serious problem, or have a few bad apples spoiled the entire batch?

Americans, facing serious economic problems at home, have a need to look for reasons that they are in financially difficult times. With high unemployment still a problem and the outlook for a rapid recovery not looking very promising, blame is sometimes put on the large imbalance of trade between Asia and the United States. People believe that because mega-stores like Wal-mart import the majority of their products from China and other Asian countries, that their jobs are lost. There may or may not be truth in that belief, but there definitely is something of an anti-Asian sentiment for those without a job.

It is of course very important that products that can be harmful to our health are not allowed to be put on store shelves and sold. There have been a few examples of toys that have made their way from China to our store shelves only to be tested and found to contain unacceptable levels of contaminants in their makeup. Those toys were quickly pulled from the store shelves, and any that were sold were recalled. Another example of a product that did not meet health standards was toothpaste imported from Asia. That product was inspected and rejected due to its unsafe composition.

America has some of the most stringent health restrictions and requirements for both food and non-food products. The requirements were put in to place by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) as well as other government agencies in order to protect the general public from dangerous products. However, we may have extra strict rules that the rest of the world does not adhere to, and what would be disqualified in the United States might be perfectly acceptable in another country.

The key to this problem is to work more closely with Asian exporters before they ship their products to the United States. When contracts between the overseas companies and the United States are drawn up, one of the conditions that should be included is a clause requiring the product to be inspected and be able to pass a safety inspection. In that way, we can still benefit from cost effective imports and also guarantee that the products will be safe.

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