Wednesday, June 27, 2007

That formaldehyde aftertaste

Because of my recent work related break from the blog I’ve found it to be a bit tough to get the rhythm going again in terms of writing posts. It’s been weeks since I had a roundup of news articles about the melamine contamination scandal so I thought a new one is in order. There has actually been some new and troubling developments.

Just this morning we have learned that the Chinese government has closed 180 food plants in China for their use of toxins in their food. Among the toxic substances found to have been used were formaldehyde, banned dyes and industrial wax. Some of the food processors were also found to have been using recycled or expired food in their plants. I wonder what “recycled” food is exactly? I have to assume it is analogous to the method of making pig feed from the excess or waste feed which we learned about several months ago as this scandal first gained momentum.

An ominous statement regarding this which was made by a director in the Chinese quality control administration, as quoted in the article linked above, “These are not isolated cases.” I take that to mean that what we have seen so far are examples of a general culture and accepted practice within the Chinese food industry as a whole. Of course, since we are shamelessly capitalistic here in the States, big business concerns grow fatter off the response by increasing sales of their products and services.

Now, don’t get me wrong on my last statement. I do believe that a person (Corporate entity in this case, which is really a legal person) deserves the profits of their labor when they devise a method or system or device which provides a legitimate and needed service to humanity. But it continues to irk me that for the last 6 years we have seen one business concern after another making huge profits in response to problems that are intentionally created by men, which doesn’t address the root problem.

The root problem in this case isn’t a natural byproduct of human activity, such as methane release in coal mining as an example, it’s a problem related to food processors intentionally adding toxic substances to their food products. It’s a safety issue that is man-made, not a naturally occurring problem. The companies that make a living by selling products that monitor methane in coal mines provide a necessary and noble product that ensures the safety of miners and the corporate assets of the business they work for. That is what I am referring to.

This series of problems is a result of big business and government holding each other’s hands and looking the other way thus allowing a problem to fester by ignoring their primary responsibilities. Once the cat is out of the bag and the problem makes them look bad, a problem that they created, they spring into inaction. Bureaucracy and cost are always the reasons given why they can’t do something. Next tune, please.

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