Friday, May 25, 2007

Is ANYTHING from China Safe These Days? (And how do we know what's from China, anyway?)

I've written some posts about the dangers of Chinese food products lately, being appalled by the callousness of some producers willing to compromise safety and even endanger lives, just to make a fast buck.

But how can consumers tell if a product comes from China or not?

A couple of days ago, my friend Jackie told me in an e-mail message that she'd bought a fruit snack mix from Costco, but didn't realize until closer scrutiny of the label that some of the components came from China, mixed in with ingredients from other countries.

A package of frozen wild mahi-mahi in my freezer shows the country of origin as China. But is that China as in Taiwan (Republic of China) - or is it the People's Republic of China, where all these horror stories originate?

Those are just two examples of how labeling is vague, and inadequate. Food producers in other countries including the U.S often purchase Chinese products to manufacture their goods - wheat gluten in pet food, as an example.

NPR explored this topic in-depth on Morning Edition today. Read or listen to Richard Knox's report: As Imports Increase, a Tense Dependence on China. It's a comprehensive page with lots of features: You can see some of the products China has cornered the market on it from
antibiotics to vitamins. And former FDA official William Hubbard explains why melamine got through the FDA's food safety inspection system, and whether consumers should worry about imports.

Here are links to my earlier blog entries on the subject:

Food Safety: So Much More Than E. coli

Another Tale of Food Safety Challenges in China

Deadly Industrial Chemicals from China Landing Up Cough Syrup and Other Products

Trail to Chinese Food Producers Turns Cold

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Add to the list of "Unsafe Foods from China" today's news about deadly pufferfish being sold as monkfish.

When, I wonder, will our government see that an unsafe food supply ranks up there with all the other clear and present dangers to the people of this country.

Frankly, I'm beginning to believe that the only safe food one can eat is that which is grown in your own backyard, in a hermatically sealed bubble!