More Bad News: China’s Quality Crises

The article below is from Today’s New York Times.  

It seems clear by now that this is a “tip of the iceberg issue”, that a country already under fire for so many tainted products hasn’t been able to even make a dent in the problems plaguing it. And this is very sad—tragic even— for the many honest, hard-working Chinese farmers and manufacturers who DO work ethically. They will surely suffer do to a bunch of thugs who shrug off the most basic health and safety measures.

But the bottom line is: the health and safety of a people (China’s, our’s, ALL people) is what’s at stake here and until it’s been proven to me beyond any doubt that they’ve sorted their issues out, I will not be buying ANY products that originate in China.

As always friends, Please READ LABELS CAREFULLY. 

October 30, 2008
More Tainted Eggs From China Found

SHANGHAI — Hong Kong officials said that for the second time in a week they have found a batch of eggs imported from China that contain high levels of melamine, the same industrial chemical that has been blamed for contaminating China’s milk supplies.

The announcement, which came late Tuesday from the territory’s food safety agency, is adding to growing concerns that melamine contamination may be more widespread in China’s food supplies than previously thought.

While Hong Kong officials cautioned that children and adults would have to consume a large number of tainted eggs in a single day to fall ill, the report is still another blow to China’s agriculture industry.

China is already struggling to cope with a milk scandal that has sickened over 50,000 children and caused the deaths of at least four infants this year after they consumed melamine-tainted baby milk formula. The victims suffered from kidney stones and other ailments. That case triggered a global recall of foods made with Chinese dairy products.

The Chinese government has tried to move boldly to deal with the crisis, promising to overhaul the nation’s food safety system, announcing dozens of arrests and sacking high-ranking government officials, including the head of the nation’s top quality inspection agency.

The government has blamed the dairy scandal on organized groups of scam artists who regulators say were intentionally adding melamine to milk as cheap filler in order to save money. Melamine is known to give feed and food an artificially high protein reading.

Chinese regulators say they are now investigating how melamine got into Chinese produced eggs. The government is also doing spots checks in supermarkets in some cities, such as Shanghai.

Zhang Zhongjun, an official in Beijing with the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization, said he met late Wednesday with officials from China’s Ministry of Agriculture and was told that they believed the problem eggs found in Hong Kong were probably contaminated by melamine-tainted animal feed.

But Mr. Zhang said the government told him the source of the contamination was still unclear. “It’s not clear where the problem is from,” he said. “It’s not clear whether the melamine was added by humans or by pollution.”

Some food safety officials say that if chicken feed is contaminated with melamine, it is possible some hog and fish feed could also be contaminated. The Chinese government has not made clear in recent weeks how broadly it is testing food products for melamine.

The chemical, which is used to produce some plastics and fertilizer, was blamed last year for contaminating Chinese feed ingredients that were exported to the United States and eventually sickened dogs and cats. The case led to a major pet food recall.

On Monday, Wal-Mart Stores said some of its stores (why not all?) had pulled the Hanwei brand of eggs from shelves in China as a precaution after the Hong Kong government finding. (and what about products MADE WITH these eggs like some canned, frozen or baked food?)

The first batch of eggs that tested positive for high levels of melamine by the Hong Kong Center for Food Safety came from a company in Dalian, a city in northeast China. Officials from the region told the state-run Xinhua News Agency that the contamination may have come from local poultry farms.

According to a notice posted on the Web site of the Dalian Hanwei Food Co., regulators in Dalian first learned on Sept. 27 that some eggs from Hanwei were contaminated. The company said they were ordered to recall eggs and exports to Hong Kong were halted by regulators in early October.

The second batch of tainted eggs found in Hong Kong came from the Jingshan Agriproducts Company in Hubei province. In a telephone interview Wednesday, Pan Fengxia, the company’s general manager, admitted that eggs tested in Hong Kong were found to have higher levels of melamine than permitted.

But Ms. Pan said she did not know how they got contaminated. “I still don’t know what happened to the eggs,” she said. “I never heard that melamine was added into feed or my products — never.”


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