And China didn't take it lightly. They executed two company executives held responsible for the outbreak, so needless to say, any food imports from China need strict inspection.
That's why the U.S. Department of Agriculture has banned a Nebraska organic food inspecting company from operating in China due improper operations.
Organic Crop Improvement Association (OCIA), located in Lincoln, Nebraska, had been working in China for years, but recently got lazy.
What did they do? The USDA requires organic food to be inspected by a third party, and it turns out OCIA was using Chinese government employees to inspect Chinese farms state-owned land. Oh what's the big deal! Sigh.
These crops are branded with the USDA's organic seal.
And surprise-surprise, in the wake of this blunder, OCIA's executive director declined to comment on the USDA's ban.
But kudos to China, prior to OCIA getting the boot, Chinese organic farms did have periodic visits from other food inspectors certified by the USDA.
Now, while this is great to hear - you have to come down hard on lazy companies, especially ones that handle our food - the USDA had been trying to revoke OCIA's license since 2007. Talk about glacial action.
Hey, better late then never…I guess.
It's an understatement, but China does have its fair share of toxic problems. In addition to the melamine debacle, previous reports have linked China's massive air pollution to birth defects. Is there an inspector for that too?
Image credit: Trade Prince