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The San Jose Mercury News reports on how, “in today's global economy, more food items are being produced in this country with some ingredients from other lands.”

Examples cited by the story: “That loaf of Sara Lee bread on the grocery shelf in California was made with flour from U.S. wheat. But the Illinois-based food giant uses honey and vitamin supplements from China. While Paul Newman's daughter uses California figs in cookies made by her Aptos, Calif., organic food company, she turns to Mexico and Austria for other ingredients. And even though a Procter & Gamble spokeswoman described Crest toothpaste ‘as a truly American product,’ it uses additives from China and Finland. ”

The story notes that ultimately, consumers are going to hold manufacturers responsible for the safety of the products they sell. This actually makes sense, analysts say, because private companies tend to be far more rigorous about inspections that the US government, which examines less than one percent of all food imports. But where this gets tricky, the story suggests, is when companies don’t disclose where these ingredients come from – which allows questions to be raised, doubts to be sown, and proposals to be made about things like mandated Country of Origin Labeling (COOL).
KC's View:
I’ve argued here before that mandated COOL for virtually everything is going to be a fact of life, and that retailers and manufacturers that oppose it will find themselves looking like the generals and politicians who insist on fighting the last war as opposed to the one they’ve got. With every new headline about problems with products coming out of China, the drumbeat for greater transparency will get louder and louder. Companies will resist at their own risk.