China's Deadly Response to Toxic Food Scandal


CNN is reporting that China just executed the former head of their food and drug safety administration for taking bribes. That's right. They executed him.

BEIJING, China (Reuters) -- China's former drug and food safety watchdog chief was executed on Tuesday after being found guilty of corruption and dereliction of duty amid a series of food and drug safety scandals, Xinhua news agency said.

The Supreme People's Court approved the death sentence against Zheng Xiaoyu, 62, who was convicted of taking bribes worth some 6.5 million yuan ($850,000) from eight companies.


That's not to say the safety problem with China's products has been solved.

In fact, according to this well researched Newsweek article, it's worse than we thought.

(Confirmed by the BBC's story on the Chinese Official/Tainted Product Crisis).

China's litany of problem products, the likely tip of the iceberg, bears repeating:

  • Medicine contaminated with diethylene glycol (antifreeze) passed off as glycerin.
  • Gluten spiked with Melamine which poisoned so many of our dogs and cats :o[
  • Toxic fish contaminated with banned antibiotics and chemicals
  • Toy trains for toddlers (who like to taste things) with lead paint
  • Juice with unsafe color additives
  • Tainted seasoning on snacks.
  • A Sudan dye used to color egg yolks red
  • Pork tainted with clenbuterol, a banned feed additive.
  • Tires missing a safety component (okay, you don't eat those, but, if you're driving around on them, you may not be eating much afterward).

And it's not only their exports:

Last week, the China's food-safety watchdog said almost 20 percent of products made for domestic consumption were found to be substandard in the first half of 2007. Canned and preserved fruit and dried fish were the most problematic, primarily because of excessive bacteria and additives, the agency said.



China today resembles nothing so much as the United States a century ago, when robber barons, gangsterism and raw capitalism held sway. Now as then, powerful vested interests are profiting from murky regulations, shoddy enforcement, rampant corruption and a lack of consumer awareness. In the United States during the early 20th century, public outrage over bogus drugs and contaminated foodstuffs, fueled by graphic accounts such as Upton Sinclair's "The Jungle," finally prompted passage of the landmark Pure Food and Drug Act. China needs a similar revolution today if it is to protect its competitiveness and its consumers.


However, as CNN reports:

Avoiding 'Made In China' labels are not an easy task

The 2002 Farm Bill passed by Congress mandated country-of-origin labeling for seafood, beef, lamb, pork, fish, fruits, vegetables and peanuts, but the Bush administration has delayed its implementation for everything except seafood until October 2008.

Some fruits and vegetables sported voluntary stickers, but shoppers always should consider the calendar when shopping for produce, as stores get a lot of fresh fruits and vegetables from Central and South America during winter months.

None of the sweets in the candy aisle said "Made in China," but most are likely made with at least one ingredient that originated there, said William Hubbard, a former U.S. Food and Drug Administration official.


Only China's problem?

The 2002 Farm Bill passed by Congress mandated country-of-origin labeling for seafood, beef, lamb, pork, fish, fruits, vegetables and peanuts, but the Bush administration has delayed its implementation for everything except seafood until October 2008.

And then there's this:

FDA Tracked Tainted Chinese Drugs 10 Years Ago

China's solution? Kill the guy who may be able to tell just which companies are behind all of this (maybe not the reason, but...)...

Another Chinese man (this one a hero - one of many) who may be at risk?

Wang Hai's mobile phone keeps buzzing with calls from clients. He's China's most famous crusader against fraudulent, shoddy and dangerous goods. The business consultant targets counterfeiters, helps duped consumers and protects whistle-blowers, many of whom face harassment or worse. "A good system for guaranteeing quality control simply doesn't exist in China," says Wang, who's been on the consumer-rights warpath for more than a decade. "Even confidential informants who report to authorities about someone selling fraudulent goods can wind up dead, under suspicious circumstances."


My suggestion?

Buy local wherever you can:

here's a link to Farmer's Markets by U.S. State.
here's a link to Farmer's Markets in Canada.
here's a link to Farmer's Markets in Great Britain.
here's a link to Farmer's Markets in Australia

Buy proven foodstuffs where you can't buy local and buy FAIR TRADE everywhere you can:

Speaking of chocolate (a subject dear to my heart), here's a table of chocolate products that are not produced by child slave labor [1]

chocolate, diamonds, coltan...


Here's a website from the Mandela Project about conflict products:

The Inventory of Conflict & Environment (ICE)

And perhaps we could reserve some empathy for the 1,321,851,888 [2] Chinese people who live with the risk of their own tainted food supply -- of which we have seen just the terrifying tip of the iceberg.