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Let me begin this post by saying that I think the Chinese Culture is a one rich in history and varied in cuisine. But lately, the great country of China has been more interested in maximizing profits while minimizing costs. In doing so they have had grave problems with food safety.
There has been a lot of news over the years about contamination of food from China. Most recently the news was about Arsenic in Apple Juice and earlier this summer we heard news about Honey being smuggled in from China. So should we be shocked? No not really. China has had a long history of food safety problems.
2007 – Malachite green is found in farmed fish imported from China. It is used to prevent infections in crowded fish ponds, but it can cause cancer and has been banned by the FDA for use in fish to be consumed by people. The move came after 25% of the Chinese products the FDA sampled from October through May were found to contain residue of chemicals the FDA doesn't allow in fish. Most are known or suspected carcinogens. source. China remains the biggest producer of aquacultured seafood in the world, accounting for 70 percent of the total production and 55 percent of the total value of aquacultured seafood exported worldwide.he contaminants found in the fish are the antimicrobials nitrofuran, malachite green, gentian violet, and fluoroquinolone. Nitrofuran, malachite green and gentian violet, which are used to treat fungal infections, have been shown to be carcinogenic with long-term exposure in lab animals. The use of fluoroquinolones in food animals may increase antibiotic resistance to this class of antibiotics.
2007 Garlic – garlic has been contaminated with raw sewage that was used to fertilize the soil at the farms. Chlorine was used to bleach the bulbs to the pretty white color. Ever buy garlic at the farmer’s market? And chemicals were used to prevent the bulbs from sprouting during the months of travel from China to the importing country.
2007 – That same year 900,000 tubes of toothpaste imported from China were found to be contaminated with chemical used in antifreeze. These products were found in institutions for the mentally ill, hospitals, prisons and juvenile detention centers in Georgia and North Carolina, according to The New York Times.
2007 – Ginger Recall The ginger was found to be contaminated with aldicarb sulfoxide, a pesticide that can cause nausea, headache and blurred vision when ingested by humans in small amounts. In larger amounts, it can cause dizziness, sweating, vomiting, diarrhea, muscle stiffness and difficulty breathing.
2007 – All of the above was preceded by the largest pet food recall in US history because of melamine in the dog food. Melamine was used as a filler to bulk up volume in the food as well to give the appearance of higher protein content. The recalled pet food was then fed to livestock. Melamine is normally used in making plastic.
2008-2011 Melamine in Milk – this is an ongoing problem in China that first surfaced in 2008 and is continuing to cause problems this year. The milk caused the death of several infants and the illness of countless more. The melamine gives watered down milk the appearance of a high protein level.Perhaps most disturbing about the melamine in milk is that milk is used in many baked products.By the way - Do you know where McDonald’s gets it’s pies and other baked treats?
2011 – Exploding Watermelon – This summer there were stories about watermelon exploding in the fields. We now know that farmers gave the watermelons growth hormones that caused them to grow so fast they exploding. The bad fruit was then fed to livestock (again).
2011 Cadmium in Rice Earlier this year 12 million tons of rice where found to be contaminated with cadmium, a heavy metal known to cause cancer.This problem is said to stem from the industrialization of the farm belt in China, Cadmium is used in the manufacturing of computers and other electronics. Some samples were contaminated with up to five times the legal limit.
2010 Bleach in Mushrooms A young boy after having his mother tell him he could not eat mushrooms due to them being treated with bleach, began a study with the help of a PhD student and found that 81 per cent of fresh mushrooms on sale in the Chinese capital are bleached with harmful chemicals.Consuming bleaching chemicals can damage the liver and trigger asthma and skin allergies.
2011 - Borax in Pork, – borax was used in pork to make it look like beef
2011 – There are other reports of human birth control chemicals being used on cucumber plants, artificially dyed peppers and barite powder being injected into chickens to increase their weight.
The Problem with Food Safety in China
As I was doing research for this the same thing kept on coming up over and over, people in China have HIGH concerns for their own food safety. It is the number one topic Many state farmers there will even grow their own food. That simple fact alone speaks volumes about the safety of food coming out of China. As a result, Chinese consumers fear for what is in their food. “Basically, people now feel nothing is safe to eat,” Sang Liwei, of the Food Safety Forum, told the NY Times. “They don’t know what choices to make. They are really feeling very helpless.” Many wary customers in China prefer to buy imported goods, as they believe them to be safer. However, the Fruit Industry Association of Guangdong province told reporters that most ‘imported’ fruit are grown in China.
In a related story, activist Zhao Lianhai has disappeared after he was sentenced last month to two and half years in prison for seeking justice on behalf of the children poisoned in the melamine-milk scandal. The families involved have not yet received any adequate compensation to pay for the expensive medical treatment the children require.
The Chinese have good reason to worry that heavy metals, pesticides and other contaminants are creeping into their food. China is the world's biggest producer and user of pesticides, and many farmers over-apply pesticides and fertilizers to get greater yields on limited arable land.
Matthew Crabbe, the managing director of Access Asia, a Shanghai-based market research firm.
Crabbe said foreign firms that obtained food ingredients in China "would probably be safer to actually buy some farmland there and grow it themselves."
Food safety has become an issue in China because of increased pressures to produce more food on less than desirable land. Couple that with the fact that China manufactures and uses more pesticides than any other country and you have the perfect mix for chemical warfare on food.
In the course of research for this post I found out that it is possible to get organic produce in China. Organic produce is reserved for important government officials and athletes.
What can we do?
Reading labels is often not enough, Products like garlic and ginger are often removed from their cases and merchandised loose in bins or on shelves. This problem is not new and looks like it will be continuing for a while, since China does not have enough food safety inspectors to check food. When food safety is concerned my advice tis to grow what you can on your own, and know where your food is coming from. I really enjoying knowing the people that I get my food from personally. I am even lucky enough to call some of them friends.
China Food Safety
Tropic Post – China’s Wide Spread Contamination of Food
As I was doing research for this post I did find out that you can get organic food in China. Organic food is reserved for important government officials and star athletes. So while they believe in altering the food and throwing tons of pesticides at it in order to increase production, they also acknowledge that organic food is better for you, by reserving the best food for the elite.
This post is linked up with Green and Natural Mamas, Living Well Blog Hop, Your Green Resource, Fresh Bites Friday,Traditional Tuesdays t