Red-Hot Resources

"Luck is not chance, it’s toil; fortune’s expensive smile is earned.”

Monday, May 21, 2007

Tainted China Food – It’s Worse Than We Thought

Hat-tip to my friend Phil from for sending me this story about the poisoned food we're getting from China. About the only good news I could find in this piece on China's contaminated food is that we don't import THAT much of it. The US imports about $2 billion worth of Chinese food versus $10 billion of foodstuffs from Canada.

Here is the opening of the story (from the Washington Post, reprinted in the San Jose Mercury News) …

WASHINGTON - Dried apples preserved with a cancer-causing chemical. Frozen catfish laden with banned antibiotics. Scallops and sardines coated with putrefying bacteria. Mushrooms laced with illegal pesticides.

These were among the 107 food imports from China the Food and Drug Administration detained at U.S. ports just last month, agency documents reveal, along with more than 1,000 shipments of tainted Chinese dietary supplements, toxic Chinese cosmetics and counterfeit Chinese medicines.

For years, U.S. inspection records show, China has flooded the United States with foods unfit for human consumption. And for years, FDA inspectors have simply returned to Chinese importers the small portion of those products they caught - many of which turned up at U.S. borders again, making a second or third attempt at entry.

Now the confluence of two events - the highly publicized contamination of U.S. chicken, pork and fish with tainted Chinese pet food ingredients and this week's resumption of high-level economic and trade talks with China - has activists and members of Congress demanding the United States tell China it is fed up.

Dead pets and melamine-tainted food notwithstanding, change will prove difficult, policy experts say, in large part because U.S. companies have become so dependent on the Chinese economy that tighter rules on imports stand to harm the U.S. economy, too.

I added emphasis to that last part. Apparently, our government would LIKE to protect us, but can't because that might hurt the profits of US agri-business.

Some more from the story (oh yeah, it gets worse) …

As a result, the United States finds itself "kowtowing to China," Cassidy said, even as that country keeps sending American consumers adulterated and mislabeled foods.

It's not just about cheap imports, added Carol Tucker Foreman, a former assistant secretary of agriculture now at the Consumer Federation of America.

"Our farmers and food processors have drooled for years to be able to sell their food to that massive market," Foreman said. "The Chinese counterfeit. They have a serious piracy problem. But we put up with it because we want to sell to them."

U.S. agricultural exports to China have grown to more than $5 billion a year - a fraction of last year's $232 billion U.S. trade deficit with China but a number that has enormous growth potential, given the Chinese economy's 10 percent growth rate and its billion-plus consumers.

Once again, profits over the health of our nation. Ask yourself: If al Qaeda was doing this to us, would we put up with it? Why are we risking the health of all of us and our children just to make a few corporate farms and agri-businesses rich?

Two more paragraphs, then I'll let you go read the whole thing …

China's less-than-stellar behavior as a food exporter is revealed in stomach-turning detail in FDA "refusal reports" filed by U.S. inspectors: Juices and fruits rejected as "filthy." Prunes tinted with chemical dyes not approved for human consumption. Frozen breaded shrimp preserved with nitrofuran, an antibacterial that can cause cancer. Swordfish rejected as "poisonous."

In the first four months of 2007, FDA inspectors - who are able to check out less than 1 percent of regulated imports - refused 298 food shipments from China. By contrast, 56 shipments from Canada were rejected, even though Canada exports about $10 billion in FDA-regulated food and agricultural products to the United States - compared with about $2 billion from China.

Read the whole thing by CLICKING HERE.


Check out my new gold and energy blog at