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CBS News reports: Alarm Bells Ring Over China Food Imports

The list of Chinese food exports rejected at American ports reads like a chef’s nightmare: pesticide-laden pea pods, drug-laced catfish, filthy plums and crawfish contaminated with salmonella.

Yet, it took a much more obscure item, contaminated wheat gluten, to focus U.S. public attention on a very real and frightening fact: China’s chronic food safety woes are now an international concern.

[snip]

While the public was focused on the danger to their pets, sources tell CBS News that the FDA had tracked at least one suspect batch of wheat gluten into the human food supply, quietly quarantined some products and notified the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention to watch for new patients admitted to hospitals with renal or kidney failure.

“This really shows the risks of food purity problems combining with international trade,” said Michiel Keyzer, director of the Center for World Food Studies at Amsterdam’s Vrije Universiteit.

Don’t worry; be happy; the government will protect you.

While China talks about privatization, many of their “enterprises” operate on the old model, which demands fulfillment of quotas at any cost. Cut any corners necessary, but don’t miss the target you were given. The lives of individuals are not valued very highly and the elite don’t eat the local food.

Bribery and corruption is endemic in the system, even more of a problem since the move to capitalization began. If Party membership was once the key to a comfortable life, now it is considered the path to wealth.

The question for Americans is how many deaths will it take before we start seeing an effort made at really inspecting what comes into the country?

8 comments

1 Anntichrist S. Coulter { 04.13.07 at 11:17 pm }

And to think… we thought that Soylent Green was something to worry about… Who knows, the way that things are going and those secret Halliburton “prisons” being built all over the country, we could wind-up in the chow line… on the plates.

Okay, I kid. A bit.

But face it, we don’t count. We’re not billionaires, we don’t own oil companies, we don’t run this shit.

We die, we disappear, we don’t matter.

We trust the FDA to protect our food, and they in turn take their kickbacks to look the other way while we are poisoned. After all, THEY don’t have to buy the cheap shit at Wally World, now do they.

2 Bryan { 04.14.07 at 12:15 am }

That crap went into Hill’s Science Diet which is not available at Mal-Wart. I worked in a canning factory – the major difference between store brands and “national” brands is the label.

The stuff for Neiman Marcus is made next door to the stuff made for K-Mart.

They are paying a lot of money for the same crap unless they are buying fresh and local.

3 Steve Bates { 04.14.07 at 4:08 am }

Shades of Cat’s in the Kitchen!

Now the question for me is this: do I throw out the cans of Chinese wheat gluten I just bought (two of seitan bits; one of veggie “Peking Duck”), or do I throw ’em in the stir-fry and eat ’em?

You know, I eat a whole lot of products made in Mexico. They make the best cheap salsa (of a dozen varieties at least, and I don’t just mean different brands), tortilla chips, pickled jalapeños and red hot sauce in the world, and those are staples in my household. And whatever the popular “wisdom” may be, Mexico is a civilized country with respectable standards for the food it exports to the U.S. Why do Mexican products have the undeserved reputation for inducing intestinal illnesses, while China gets away with sending us all this stuff?

4 Bryan { 04.14.07 at 11:31 am }

I never had a problem with anything from Mexico when I was living in San Diego. We used to have informal gatherings at one of the computer wholesalers that amounted to potlucks with half the food coming from Mexico. Either you can deal with chilis or you can’t. If you can’t, your digestive tract is going to react. The Mexicans can’t afford to use all of the industrial garbage that the big operations use, so they are not apt to be as chemically toxic.

I couldn’t even begin to guess how you would check on the Chinese products. Food recalls shouldn’t be secret, they should be broadcast.

5 Anntichrist S. Coulter { 04.14.07 at 11:47 pm }

So, somebody debunk this for me, ’cause I’ve heard it for many a moon, from multiple sources: Much like the e-coli outbreak with the bagged fresh spinach, I’ve always heard that Mexican farmers use water/fertilizer that features human feces as part of the “nutrients”.

Is there a Snopes category for this?

And if they weren’t “purposefully” fertilizing the spinach with human waste, then how in the hell did it get to the spinach?

6 Bryan { 04.15.07 at 3:08 am }

Human waste doesn’t contain the type of E. Coli that contaminate the spinach. That variety is found in grain fed beef cattle. It was run-off from an upstream beef factory farm that polluted the irrigation water. We all have E. Coli in our digestive systems, it helps to break down the food. If you take strong antibiotics it gets wiped out and you have stomach problems until it re-appears.

All that was necessary was to allow the cattle to graze, and the dangerous variety of E. Coli is destroyed in the stomachs of the cattle. In the factory farm environment there is no grazing, so the problem crops up repeatedly.

7 Anntichrist S. Coulter { 04.15.07 at 6:21 pm }

Yeah, but I’m still wondering if the rumor is true that they use human waste as “fertilizer.”

8 Bryan { 04.15.07 at 9:21 pm }

I don’t know about other parts of Mexico, but there isn’t any real evidence of spreading anything on the fields in Baja. They tend to go with whatever gets deposited naturally or, as the result of septic tank drain fields.

Now the irrigation water in the areas where some sewage systems exist would almost assuredly contain human waste, as most sewage plants dump into the same water sources used for irrigation.

They are making most of the same mistakes we made in this country, but not quite as quickly.