President Donald J. Trump’s attitude toward food safety has so far been somewhat mysterious. Last year, during his campaign, he announced plans to rein in the “FDA food police”—but then the statement disappeared from the campaign website.
The plot thickens: Today, Gizmodo published “what appears to be a leaked phone conversation between Trump and Wilbur Ross, his nominee for Commerce Secretary.” In the recording, which metadata suggests was recorded at Ross’ office on December 13, 2016, Trump pitches the idea of using the threat of increased food inspection as a tool to pressure foreign powers on trade deals:
TRUMP: If you look at Japan, what they do with food—they say it’s not clean enough, and you have to send it back, and by the time it comes back it’s all gone.
ROSS: Exactly. And we oughta let them know we’re gonna start playing the same game.
TRUMP: Well I think you let them know that we’re going to do that. Without saying that, you say, “We’re gonna inspect you so closely,” bomp bomp.
ROSS: Yeah. That’s the thing—not to say that it’s punitive, but in the interest of American safety.
Gizmodo has more here.