China: A shameful tradition of tainted food

Published on Taipei Times
http://www.taipeitimes.com/News/editorials/archives/2008/10/17/2003426151

EDITORIAL: A shameful tradition of tainted food

Friday, Oct 17, 2008, Page 8

In China, tasteless and colorless melamine has been part of the food chain for a long time. Its addition to Sanlu’s milk powder has now created a global panic over contaminated Chinese foodstuffs.

And this was not the first time.

In May last year, companies in China’s Jiangsu and Shandong provinces added melamine to wheat protein and barley protein powder, which caused thousands of pets in the US, Canada and other countries to fall ill or die.

More than 60 million pet food products were recalled. Feed for 20 million chickens, hundreds of thousands of cultivated fish and thousands of pigs was also contaminated with melamine.

The immediate reaction by the Chinese authorities to the allegations of poisonous animal food was strong denial, and it was only when the US insisted that it be involved and sent representatives to China to take samples that the scandal was exposed.

So what did the Chinese authorities learn from that incident? Nothing.

In the most recent crisis, local governments continued to offer denials even after New Zealand company Fonterra Co-operative Group used diplomatic channels to put pressure directly on the Chinese government. It is well-known within the Chinese industry that melamine is added to milk powder, vegetable proteins, processed food products and animal feed. The government knows it and tolerates it.

Melamine is one of many harmful additives, and even if the melamine problem were eliminated, other hazardous substances could be added to products.

On Wednesday, frozen green beans imported from China to Japan were found to contain 34,500 times the amount of pesticides allowed in Japan. The government immediately ordered a recall.

There is no end to all the problems with Chinese food products.

Importing countries must pressure China and demand that it meet its responsibilities by strengthening procedures to manage, inspect and ban contaminated food products and thus control the export of toxic food.

Taiwan’s Bureau of Standards, Metrology and Inspection and the Department of Health should meet their control responsibilities and implement stricter sampling of raw materials imported finished or semi-finished.

The government should amend the Commodity Labeling Act (商品標示法) to require that, in addition to listing manufacturing country, contents and nutritional value, labels also show the production process at the place of origin for raw materials to that consumers can make an informed choice as to the safety of a specific product.

Although China’s Taiwan Affairs Office spokesperson Yang Yi (楊毅) said China would handle the milk powder incident satisfactorily and demanded that Duqing Co in Shandong send representatives to Taiwan to investigate its export of dairy creamer here, he has kept mum on the issue of compensation to the victims, which displays a total lack of sincerity.

The milk powder scandal has had a serious economic impact on the companies involved as well as public health in Taiwan.

The Taiwanese government and private sectors must demand compensation from the Chinese government and manufacturers.

If China does not provide an adequate response to compensation demands in a timely manner, Chinese products should be boycotted and people should take to the streets to protest when Association for Relations Across the Taiwan Strait Chairman Chen Yunlin (陳雲林) visits Taipei.

FDA Indictments for Importing Contaminated Ingredients Used in Pet Food

FDA News Release - February 6, 2008

FDA Investigation Leads to Several Indictments for Importing Contaminated Ingredients Used in Pet Food
Contaminated pet food caused pet illnesses and deaths last year

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) Office of Criminal Investigations announced that two Chinese nationals and the businesses they operate, along with a U.S. company and its president and chief executive officer, were indicted by a federal grand jury today in separate but related cases. The indictments are for their roles in a scheme to import products purported to be wheat gluten into the United States that were contaminated with melamine. These products were used to make pet food.

Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co., LTD. (XAC), a Chinese firm that processes and exports plant proteins to the United States; Mao Linzhun, a Chinese national who is the owner and manager of XAC; Suzhou Textiles, Silk, Light Industrial Products, Arts and Crafts I/E Co. LTD. (SSC), a Chinese export broker that exports products from China to the United States; and Chen Zhen Hao, president of SSC and a Chinese national were charged in a 26-count indictment returned by a federal grand jury today in Kansas City, Mo.

Also indicted were ChemNutra, Inc., a Las Vegas, Nevada corporation that buys food and food components from China to sell to U.S. companies in the food industry, along with ChemNutra owners Sally Qing Miller and her husband, Stephen S. Miller, who were charged in a separate, but related, 27-count indictment. Sally Qing Miller, a Chinese national, is the controlling owner and president of ChemNutra; Stephen Miller is an owner and CEO of ChemNutra. The indictments charge all seven defendants with delivering adulterated food that contained melamine, a substance which may render the food injurious to health, into interstate commerce; introduction of a misbranded food into interstate commerce; and other charges.

The indictments allege that more than 800 tons of purported wheat gluten, totaling nearly $850,000, was imported into the United States between Nov. 6, 2006, and Feb. 21, 2007. According to the indictments, SSC falsely declared to the Chinese government that those shipments were not subject to mandatory inspection by the Chinese government prior to export.

Melamine can be used to create products such as plastics, cleaning products, glues, inks, and fertilizers. Under certain conditions, melamine mixed with wheat gluten can make the product appear to have a higher protein level than is actually present. Melamine has no approved use as an ingredient in human or animal food in the United States. Wheat gluten is a natural protein derived from wheat or wheat flour, which is extracted to yield a powder with high protein content. Pet food manufacturers often use wheat gluten as a thickener or binding agent in the manufacture of certain types of pet food.

ChemNutra contracted with SSC, a Chinese registered export broker, to purchase food grade wheat gluten, according to the indictment. SSC then entered into a separate contract with XAC to supply the wheat gluten it needed to fulfill its contract with ChemNutra.

The indictments allege that the products purported to be wheat gluten were misbranded because the labels incorrectly represented that the purported wheat gluten had a minimum protein level of 75%.

On March 15, 2007, a pet food manufacturer alerted FDA to the deaths of 14 cats and dogs, several reported by consumers and several that died during routine taste trials conducted by the company. The animals were reported to have developed kidney failure after eating pet food that had been manufactured with the purported wheat gluten.

Menu Foods Voluntarily Recalls Additional Pet Food

Contact:
Menu Foods
1-866-895-2708

Recall — Firm Press Release

Menu Foods Voluntarily Recalls Additional Pet Food made with ChemNutra Wheat Gluten

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE — TORONTO, April 10, 2007 — Prompted by reports from the US Food and Drug Administration as to the presence of melamine in cans of cuts and gravy pet food produced in Menu Foods’ Canadian production facility, Menu Foods undertook an accounting of all recalled wheat gluten supplied by ChemNutra Inc. to Menu Foods in the United States. As the result of that review, Menu Foods has identified a single interplant transfer of the ChemNutra supplied wheat gluten, shipped from Menu Foods’ plant in Emporia, Kansas, to its plant in Streetsville, Ontario. This wheat gluten was subsequently used in the production of pet food in December, 2006 and January, 2007, which is being recalled by Menu Foods. The new varieties in the United States and Canada have been added to the recall list. The latest recall group is listed below, and a complete list of recalled products, including the new items can be reviewed at http://www.menufoods.com.

Cat Food

Brand

Look For This Date On The Bottom of Can or Back of Pouch

Variety Description

Can / Pouch

Size

UPC

Americas Choice,
Preferred Pet
Jan/2/10 Flaked Tuna 3oz Can 3oz 54807-59114
Your Pet
Dec/19/09 Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 72036-29026
Jan/24/10
Nov 06 09 Sliced Variety Pack 3oz Can 3oz 72036-40013
Pet Pride
Dec/19/09 Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 11110-86264
Jan/24/10
Nov 06 09 Sliced Variety Pack 3oz Can 3oz 11110-86003
Dec 05 09
Dec 06 09
Jan 23 10
Jan 24 10
Laura Lynn
Jan/2/10 Flaked Tuna 3oz Can 3oz 86854-02407
Dec/19/09 Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 86854-02406
Nutriplan
Dec/19/09 Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 41130-06755
Price Chopper
Dec/19/09 Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 41735-12828
Publix
Jan/2/10 Flaked Tuna 3oz Can 3oz 41415-08327
Dec/19/09 Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 41415-08827
Jan/2/10
Jan/24/10
Stop & Shop Companion
Jan/2/10 Flaked Tuna 3oz Can 3oz 88267-00286
Winn Dixie
Dec/19/09 Sliced Beef/Gravy 3oz Can 3oz 21140-19419
Nutro Products
All Dates Chicken Cacciatore 3oz Can 3oz 79105-35205
All Dates Orleans Seafood Jambalaya 3oz Can 3oz 79105-35206
All Dates Beef Ragout 3oz Can 3oz 79105-35207
All Dates Alaskan Halibut/Rice 3oz Can 3oz 79105-35221
All Dates Kitten Chicken/Lamb 3oz Can 3oz 79105-35202
All Dates California Chicken 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30011
All Dates Lamb/Turkey Cutlets 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30014
All Dates Salmon/Whitefish 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30013
All Dates Beef/Egg 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30015
All Dates Turkey/Chicken Liver 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30016
All Dates Seafood/Tomato/Bisque 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30017
All Dates Hunters Stew with Duck 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30018
All Dates Hunters Stew with Venison 3oz Can 3oz 79105-30019

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