Monday, May 14, 2007

More bad news regarding Chinese food imports

There are more developments in the melamine tainted food scandal to report. According to Scientific American, US investigators looking into the source of the contamination have toured two food processing facilities that were identified as being the source. The investigators found both factories closed, "We visited the two facilities and there is essentially nothing to be found because they are closed down," said Walter Batts, head of FDA's office of international investigations. An FDA team has been in China since April 30.”

This leads me to a question that neither Scientific American asked nor the inspectors volunteered, if the factories were shuttered and the machinery dismantled, how can they be sure that these really were the facilities that made the tainted wheat gluten? It sounds to me that the investigators were taken to a facility that leads them on the proverbial wild goose chase.

The Contra Costa Times recently ran an editorial comment about the scandal which brought to light another aspect of our food safety, or lack thereof, of which I did not know. According to the article’s author, John E. Peck, milk protein concentrate is an industrial-grade ingredient that has found it’s way into our food chain as well with absolutely no governmental oversight or safety review. Milk protein concentrate is used to make adhesives and is also used in adulterated cheese products which range in type from nutritional drinks, candies and potato chips. It is also used in several Kraft products such as Velveeta cheese, Mac ‘n Cheese and Kraft Singles.

In yet another related story, the director of the Mississippi Poison Control Center is giving a two-thumbs up style approval to catfish imported from China that was found to contain antibiotics that are illegal for use in the US. "Would I personally worry about eating this? No, not in any way," Cox said. "I'd serve it to my family and my children. And I'm not advocating that we eat Asian catfish either, I'm just saying I'm not worried that there's a danger there." Yet these antibiotics were found to be so dangerous that they were banned from use in food producing animals in the US in 1997.

And one final side note about these wonderful, healthy and safe products being imported from China, approximately 100 Panamanians have died after taking cough syrup that was manufactured in China. The company that made the medicine added a chemical that is similar to antifreeze and it was not authorized to manufacture medicines in the first place.

Bon apetite!

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