Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Chinese melamine and other toxins have been in our food for years

The rampant use of chemical additives in animal feed can be traced to 1999. According to Gao Yinxiang, the research and development of high-protein feed additives was a hot field among scientists about 10 years ago due to shortage of animal fodder in the country at the time.

From that time, it's hard to define the exact role that scientists played in the evolution of the melamine scandal. Yet scientists certainly contributed to it by developing unsafe protein alternatives. Many Chinese are now calling on scientists to examine their conscience before making profits at the expense of public safety.

The CAS may not have invented melamine additives. However, it still owes the public an explanation as to why it developed - and continues to develop - feed supplements that food experts say are dangerous for human health.

The melamine saga and the reactions from relevant parties, including scientists, the government and the related companies, shows a system that continues to shirk responsibility rather than taking efforts to avoid similar incidents happening again.

Without effective supervision and sound accountability, China's food scares are far from over.
It's not just animal feed. Earlier quote in the article: (my bold)
But scientists say warnings signs were apparent as early as last year when melamine in Chinese-made pet food killed house pets across the United States.

"You can't separate the food supplies of animals, pets and people," Marion Nestle, a public health professor at New York University and author of the recent book Pet Food Politics: The Chihuahua in the Coal Mine, told the Washington Post. "That's an enormous warning sign that if something wasn't done immediately to clean up the food safety problem, this would leak into the human food supply."

China has used the Kjeldahl Nitrogen Determination Method to measure protein level in food, meaning the content of protein is determined by the level of nitrogen. It is an open secret in China that melamine is added to milk and animal feed to artificially boost nitrogen levels. It was not until recently, after the exposure of the tainted-milk scandal, that China make it compulsory to test the content of melamine in foodstuffs.
So what does long exposure to melamine do to humans? Kidney stones? Autism? Alzheimer's? What exactly have the Chinese been putting in its products, making our farm animals eat, making us eat?

And why should we trust anything the Chinese government promises us? They get caught repeatedly after vowing not to contaminate their products.

Just a reminder:

China saying no to inspections and destroying evidence.

Rat poison.

Wheat, corn, and rice gluten.

Pesticide-laden pea pods, drug-laced catfish, filthy plums and crawfish contaminated with salmonella. Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical. Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria. Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.

Excessive antibiotic and pesticide use.

What melamine is.

Poisoned chickens.

Poisoned farm fish

The toothpaste with diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in engine coolants.


Highly toxic puffer fish sold as monk fish.

Fake blood protein.

Lead in toys: Thomas the Tank Engine, baby bibs, cub scout badges, wooden blocks.

Waste water forced into pigs going to market

Poisoned water.

Poisoned medicinal syrup.

750,000 people in China are dying prematurely every year due to high levels of air pollution and poor water quality.

Formaldehyde in candy, in baby clothing

Wild mice used for meat.

Defective tires.

Use of illegal drift nets.

Coma-inducing date rape drug in toys.

Asbestos in toys.

Fake kosher food.

Insecticide-tainted dumplings.

More than 40 percent of drinking water in rural China is unfit for drinking.

Babies being poisoned by milk and milk powder.

Poisoned chocolate

Tom Legg of Daai Tou Laam:
But don't expect the Chinese government to really get serious about product safety. How many product safety scares have there been in the last few years? From fake baby formula to tainted fish to fake soy sauce to tainted bean curd sheet to a bridge that collapsed because there was no steel reinforcing-bar used.

If the CCP wants to product their people from eating hormone-laden pork, then that is their prerogative. If they instead want to ban products from the US as a tit-for-tat over negative press coverage of Chinese product safety issues, it shows the Chinese government is childish and easily manipulated by foreign powers. Like a recalled Chinese toy, press the right buttons and watch the CCP leaders dance. Watch the CCP spokesperson trotted out to blame it all on the US media. (This of course is the same lap dog US media that willingly served up the story on Mattel as model Chinese operator days before the first toy recall.)

Did you really expect the CCP to clean up their own house? The folks who trashed Premier Wen's Green GDP? The folks whose tactics to combat corruption hearken back to the Ming Dynasty with the substitution of video games for the study of Confucian classics? We aren't talking about leaders with a great ability to look in the mirror and see the problems staring back at themselves.

But to really clean house would come at too steep a price for many cadres and their cronies. So the CCP's option is to keep letting Chinese die at home and face negative press abroad and hope that enough exports keep getting out to keep the currency flow positive and enough skim from IPOs and LCs to keep investment bankers like former Goldman Sachs man US Treasury Secretary Paulson happy, so that their grip on power in Beijing is kept firm.
Trader Joe's is taking some of the Chinese food products off its shelves.

And finally... after how many years of complaints, and poisonings and deaths, the FDA acts:

Federal health officials on Thursday ordered dozens of imported foods from China held at the border as possible health risks. Most are ethnic treats, including snacks, drinks and chocolates.

It's unusual for the Food and Drug Administration to put such a broad hold on goods from an entire country, not just a few rogue manufacturers. The order, which covers products made with milk, is a precaution to keep out foods contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine, which can cause serious kidney problems.

crossposted at American Street


Anonymous said...

Our government has dawdled as far as protecting us from bad and poisonous products and foods. We voted for these people to watch out for us. What are they doing?
Lawmakers receive benefits and vote themselves a raise and do not help us

ellroon said...

The Bush administration has cleared the way for corporations to make a lot of money by cutting back on rules and regulations that protect us. Now we've seen what happens when they consider only the quick buck rather than the long term implications. A very Republican ideal taken to its obvious conclusion: poisoned food, contaminated products, toxic toys.

Let's hope we can reactivate our product safety laws so that no more people are hurt by this greed and lawlessness.