Written By Chelsea Kent
Since the 2007 Melamine Pet Food Recall, when thousands of Chinese products were recalled due to deadly Melamine plastic toxicity, many people have developed the misperception that internationally manufactured products are lower quality than those made in the United States. Is there truth behind this or not? How concerned do we need to be about internationally manufactured products? Here are some thoughts, guidelines and considerations to help you make a more educated decision about your future purchases.
Pros and Cons of buying American-made products
Supporting your local economy – Buying within the United States, especially from small, local companies keeps American money within your economy.
Less Shipping – Shipping, obviously, requires a lot of natural resources such as fossil fuels that contribute to pollution and even global warming.
Lack of regulation – the human food industry is much more closely regulated by our FDA to insure human food safety — that is their primary job while the pet industry is not regulated well in ANY country — USA included. It is up to the company to be ethical and create quality, safe products. There are many, many great options out there for high quality, safe products from all over the world.
GMO’s – The United States is heavily influenced by Monsanto, owner of most Genetically Modified food product patents. Therefore, it’s increasingly difficult to find food products in the United States that are not genetically modified. In order to supply people with healthy, natural, non-GMO food products its generally REQUIRED that a company source it from another country.
Pros and Cons of buying Internationally manufactured products
Additional standards and testing – In order for a company to be allowed to sell products to other countries they must abide by all of their own countries standards AS WELL AS the standards of the country they are importing to. The more countries that a product is sold to, the more regulations they have to adhere to. It is common for products that are sold to multiple products to have regulatory standards that FAR exceed those that are sold only within one state or one country.
– Many American products are Genetically Modified, even things like Hawaiian Papaya. Sourcing non-GMO products is often easier in other countries. The European Union has banned irradiation for leafy greens, the United States has not. Sustainable pole, line and hook caught fish are tough to find on American coasts but Norway, Iceland and Thailand have seasonal bountiful sustainable supplies. In order to get certified organic honey you have to get it from Chili as the USA is too tainted to get certified organic honey. Vitamin E must be found in places like Kenya to non-GMO and not preserved with propylene glycol. Organic Bee Pollen is virtually impossible to find anywhere but Canada. As you can see, a products quality is determined by the company, not the location.
More Shipping (Ecological concerns) – Shipping overseas or long distances contributes to environmental pollutants and the use of fossil fuels.
Countries that are safe to buy from:
Thailand, New Zealand, Germany, Denmark, Holland, Canada, Argentina, Nepal. There are other countries that make good products, but given the complications of importation many products are limited in their ability to ship to the United States.
Countries that are typically less safe to buy from: : In China, the United States and Mexico there are good and bad companies but standards are generally lower than in the above listed countries.
No matter what the product is that you’re purchasing it’s important to question the company and its ethics prior to purchasing the product. You may find two products with identical ingredients, one is safe is one is not. One company may purchase from human food sources and test for contaminants at various points throughout production and the other doesn’t. One may have an ethical policy of not using Genetically Modified or “Scrap” products and the other may not. One may have a history of poorly handled recalls and the other may not.
These standards have nothing to do with whether or not the company is in a certain country. It has to do with the ethics and morals of the company itself. There are several very ethical companies in China, Pakistan, Germany, Denmark and all around the world, and there are several EXTREMELY popular brand name companies in the United States that are highly unethical and unsafe.
Ask questions and get answers. Don’t make assumptions about a product or company based off of packaging and marketing methods, just because a company has a nice package or says “Made in the USA” on it doesn’t mean that it’s the best choice available. If you don’t have to time to ask questions… ask us… we ask a lot of questions… even to companies whose products we don’t sell (most likely the reason we don’t sell them is because we asked questions and didn’t like their answers). Each dollar that you spend is vote for the type of companies you want to support and the type of legacy you want to leave future generations… Remember with every dollar spent, you have the opportunity to be the change you want to see in the world.