Chinese Poison Train Declared Unstoppable: Next Stop, You!

Poison toothpaste, killer cough-syrup, and tainted pet food are the tip of the disgusting iceberg of yuck heading our way from China. Over the past four months, the FDA has rejected 298 shipments from China that included “filthy” fruits, cancer-causing shrimp, and “poisonous” swordfish.

Rejected items often reappear at U.S. ports several times; importers gamble that the FDA, which only inspects 1% of regulated imports, won’t catch them in the act. Their slip-ups are detailed in stomach-wrenching refusal reports filed by the FDA.

Our puny food safety laws are no match for the wiles of Chinese importers. Federal law only allows the import of meat from foreign factories that have been certified to match domestic safety standards. Since no Chinese factories are currently certified, crafty Chinese meat smugglers simply send us their meat labeled as something else.

Some were shipped in crates labeled “dried lily flower,” “prune slices” and “vegetables,” according to news reports. It is unclear how much of the illegal meat slipped in undetected.

The problem is about to get worse as the Chinese gear up to legally export poultry that, if not properly processed, could be infected with salmonella and everyone’s favorite side dish, bird flu…

(Photo: darinmarshall)


Last year the USDA began to legalize the import of Chinese meat. Chickens can now be grown in the U.S., slaughtered in the U.S., shipped to China for “processing,” and then shipped back to the U.S. for human consumption. The rule was approved last April, coincidentally, the day before Chinese President Hu Jintao arrived on a state visit to Washington.

That rule is just the first step towards China’s true aspiration: to grow, kill, and ship homegrown Chinese chickens to the U.S. If we don’t open our gullets wide to their poultry, they won’t lift their four-year-old ban on U.S. beef. More frightening:

…permission for China to sell poultry to the United States is moving ahead because recent USDA audits found China’s poultry slaughterhouses to be equivalent to those here.

Tony Corbo, a lobbyist for Food and Water Watch, a Washington advocacy group, said that finding — which is not subject to outside review — is unbelievable, given repeated findings of unsanitary conditions at China’s chicken slaughterhouses. Corbo said he has seen some of those audits. “Everyone who has seen them was grossed out,” he said.

There is little we can do; economic realities make Americans subjects of China’s lax food safety regime.

China controls 80 percent of the world’s production of ascorbic acid, for example, a valuable preservative that is ubiquitous in processed and other foods. Only one producer remains in the United States, Hubbard said.

“That’s true of a lot of ingredients,” he said, including the wheat gluten that was initially thought to be the cause of the pet deaths. Virtually none of it is made in the United States, because the Chinese sell it for less than it would cost U.S. manufacturers to make it.

The full article is well worth a read, as are the FDA refusal reports – but only after you’ve eaten. — CAREY GREENBERG-BERGER

Tainted Chinese Imports Common [Washington Post]
Refusal Actions by FDA as Recorded in Operational and Administrative System for Import Support for China (Mainland) [FDA]

Comments

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  1. Buran says:

    Yes, there is something we can do.

    Ban Chinese food imports of any kind.

    There is just no excuse for knowingly allowing this kind of crap.

  2. peachkellipop says:

    Everyone should take a gander at the FDA link.
    Holes in surgical gloves!
    Hair dye that is not hair dye!
    Not to mention the various surgical implements, pharmacueticals (some appear to be those used in tradtional chinese medicine), cosmetics.

    Atrocious. I think it was mention in one of the posts about Melamine, actually the fake egg article that they just don’t give a shit if we’re harmed and they don’t see anything wrong with it.

    Meanwhile if we stopped trade, they’d ship it through another country to circumvent our system.

  3. Skylar says:

    @Buran: As practical as that sounds, without the ingredients we get from China, we wouldn’t be able to make a lot of the food we eat on a daily basis. It would be safer to produce everything here, sure, but if there’s one thing the U.S. and China have in common, it’s that if there’s ever a choice between cheaper and safer, cheaper always wins.

    Guess it’s time to start up the old victory garden again. Just don’t buy any Chinese seeds.

  4. mantari says:

    I was looking through the list. These mobility scooters were rejected, apparently for improper documentation. (Search the list for “Zhejiang Aceme Electric Vehicles”.)

  5. lpranal says:

    So, how do the Chinese deal with all these contaminated products? Unless the exporters are explicitly sending poison to us on purpose (i normally wouldnt say this, but i could actually see the case for that being considered a form of terrorism) the chinese are going to be having a much bigger problem than we will…

  6. bunnyfoofoo says:

    Um, I’m a pretty steady reader of your blog but…

    As an Asian-American though, I find your language extremely bothersome. “Crafty” Chinese meat smugglers? The “wiles” of Chinese importers? That sounds a lot like the stereotypical words used to describe chinamen and the yellow peril…

    I understand that there is clearly a problem with the moral fiber of the people involved in the production of these goods that cause a great deal of harm to others but I am greatly disappointed by the tone of this post because it makes it sound like “the Chinese” are working as one massive group to poison the rest of the world when in actuality, even though it’s terrible that this is happening–it’s a few bad people. Even in this country (the USA), manufacturers experience manufacturing defects, poor design, and salmonella taintings from uncareful, unhealthy practices.

    Moreover, is it really helpful to rile people up and scare them with suggestions of bird flu?

    Again, I can appreciate how wrong these actions are but I think it’s totally unnecessary to try to scare everyone with visions of “the Chinese” collectively banding together to kill everyone in the world with their exports.

  7. timmus says:

    Holy crap! Four refusals for cyclamate!!!! That’s a controversial sweetener from the early 1960s that was quickly withdrawn as a carcinogen. Though it seems there’s some shady shenanigans with Monsanto, saccharin, cyclamates, and NutraSweet in the 1970s so I have no idea whether I should feel bothered by it.

  8. lpranal says:

    update: I will never. ever. eat prunes again:

    PRESERVED SEEDLESS PRUN
    18-APR-2007 UNSAFE COL
    UNSAFE ADD
    FILTHY
    CYCLAMATE
    DULCIN
    SACCHARIN

  9. timmus says:

    Interesting… looks like Dulcin was the carcinogenic sweetener of choice during the 1950s.

  10. roche says:

    @lpranal: When you have a billion people and the government controls all of your media outlets, it is easy to loose a few thousand people in the crowd here and there.

  11. ahwannabe says:

    To paraphrase George Carlin:

    And what’s all this shit about the economy? ‘Save the economy!’ ‘Help the economy!’ ‘What about the economy?!’ Well you know what I say? FUCK the economy!

  12. Don Roberto says:

    Avoid Chinese products. Do not trust the Chinese.

  13. arirang says:

    At the risk of sounding completely bigoted (and so what if I do) I avoid buying anything made in China. It’s nearly impossible but I try which means…
    Kikkoman made in the USA soy sauce, no made in China frozen veggies from Trader Joes and Costco…

    There are plenty of recent recalls of baby toys made in China b/c the PAINT USED IS LEAD PAINT. WTF.

  14. Havok154 says:

    I really think we need to refuse ALL Chinese shipments until they can start providing safe products to use. That way they can’t try reshipping it and hope it gets through. Everything from China, refused. They’ll either have to find another country that hates life or actually work on upping the quality.

    They know they can get away with it because there are enough holes in the system that they’ll get payed one way or another. If we shut the door on them, they won’t get their money and be forced to stop cutting corners.

  15. junkmail says:

    Holy crap, this is one of the scariest things I’ve read in a looonngg time…

  16. Crazytree says:

    you’ll eat your Chinese poison and you’ll LIKE IT.

  17. raincoaster says:

    Quite seriously, don’t eat anything made in China. I live in Chinatown and I’ve been boycotting Chinese products since Tiannanmen Square and thank god, because if they’ll put it in cat food they’ll put it in your food as well. They Just. Do. Not. Care.

    Anybody remember the rat poison at the restaurant that turned out to be the competition? Hey, capitalism is great!

  18. wakela says:

    Why is India off the hook? I’m no statistician, but based on 30 minutes with excel and the two websites listed below, I came up with the following (YTD 2007):
    China
    % of imports to US: 15%
    % of FDA rejects: 15%
    Mexico
    % of imports to the US: 10%
    %of FDA rejects: 10%
    India
    % of imports to US: less than 1
    % of FDA rejects: 15%

    A non-scientific scan of the reasons for India’s rejects comes up with the same kind of “pesticides” and “filthies” we get from China.

    Sources (poke around in the data here. Interesting stuff):
    http://www.fda.gov/ora/oasis/ora_ref_cntry.html
    http://www.census.gov/foreign-trade/statistics/highlights/

    But a world without burritos, tandoori, and kung pao is not one I want to live in.

  19. oldhat says:

    I said it before: making money cannot be your first priority.

    It’s as simple as that. Because once you let making/saving money override everything else on the list, you just sold your soul to the devil.

    And that’s the deadly inherent flaw with raw capitalism. You can keep your fabled free market, but it must be effectively regulated by an obedient government.

    If we let these American and Chinese jackals go unchecked, events will mount until we are at an international crisis, maybe some type of war. (hot or cold?)

  20. oldhat says:

    And they said Chinese slaughterhouses are pretty much the same as ours?!?

    Holy shit folks, red alert! Pretty much guilt by association.

  21. 302079 says:

    This is either going to be one of the most serious health threats of the past decade, or it’s going to be the latest invasion of killer bees. And I have no idea which.

  22. Jesus On A Pogo Stick says:

    If you think this is bad, think about what is probably happening (and has happened).

    Back around the ’50s many Chinese people were extremely poor. After a brief mutiny of current leaders, they “elected” new leaders. Soon, most of the poor people were shipped off to two huge communes to work in rice fields. On day, one of China’s leaders came to visit and one of the workers promised him some unobtainable amount of rice produced. Pretty soon, the supervisors of these rice fields were forcing their working to work in two fields-one for showing off and another to make race to shove into the show field. These supervisors were also bloating the numbers that they were sharing with China’s higher-ups. Not long after, all of the rice was rotting. China was exporting out all of the rice that wasn’t totally wasted and the Chinese in these communes were starving. Pretty horrible stuff.

    Also, China wanted to be the biggest producer of steel. So, everyone started working to melt down anything that looked like steel; woks, sinks, scrap metal, you name it. What actually ended up happening was a lot of people wasted a lot of time and metal to make a whole lot of nothing.

    Now, I’m not condoning what they’re doing, but at least we’re not run by crazies… : )

  23. seawallrunner says:

    These foodstuffs and equipment – they are destined for North America only? Or are these products exported to other world countries as well?

    I just checked the CIA Fact Book online, and found China’s top five trading partners: US 21.4%, Hong Kong 16.3%, Japan 11%, South Korea 4.6%, Germany 4.3%

    Why are these deficiencies discovered only in the US and Canada and not, say, in Japan or Germany? Are import regulations for those countries less stringent, or are the damaged or dangerous goods only sent to us?

    Why isn’t there more of a global uproar?

  24. catnapped says:

    @roche: Slowly heading that way here too!

  25. formergr says:

    @arirang: Trader Joe’s frozen veggies come from China?? Ugh, crap…

  26. faust1200 says:

    Silly China! Learn from America and poison people slooowwwly…Otherwise there’s nobody left to buy yummy poison.

  27. mac-phisto says:

    FDA: “silly importer, you incorrectly labeled these chemical weapons as food!”

    IMPORTER: “stupid inspector! that is food!”

  28. mopar_man says:

    Last year the USDA began to legalize the import of Chinese meat. Chickens can now be grown in the U.S., slaughtered in the US, shipped to China for “processing,” and then shipped back to the U.S. for human consumption.

    Jesus Christ. I can’t bend my mind around why they would legalize that.

  29. nightbird says:

    There was a somewhat related story in the Toronto star yesterday: http://www.thestar.com/article/215857

    fave quote: “See those (Chinese) peas?” he continues, dodging hurried buyers in the aisle. “Ten dollars a case. In Canada you couldn’t do it for that price if everybody worked for free!”

  30. quantum-shaman says:

    All Engrish people must very eat Chinese vegetable today!! All Engrish people must very eat Chinese chicken today!! Now you can see beautiful and amazing Chinese import is very value. Look at its figure, it is nobler and enthralling, it will give you the elegance and made you exalted. What magnetic item, please eat now it will be a good item for you or your friend, also it will give you more fortune and good luck.

  31. peachkellipop says:

    @lpranal: fear not the prune, most of what we see here are California prunes but now they label them “dried plums” so people don’t associate them with old people and taking a shit.

  32. george57l says:

    So China may be unstoppable in importing the stuff America finds offensive and does not want imported? Bad news indeed. Chinese ecomonic imperialism is gathering speed and won’t slow down. US beef farmers WILL lobby to get beef exported and Chinese poultry WILL be in the USA. Shame. Oh – by the way – what goes around comes around. Lots of us in Europe didn’t want the US/Monsanto sponosred US exports of all sorts of stuff like beef (and dairy produce) riddled with growth hormomes (this is entirely exemplary so no quibbling with this example please). So NOW do you know how it feels, America? Economnic imperialism is not so good when you’re on the taking end not the giving end, eh? So say “yes”, nicely, America, apologise and say you were wrong and maybe some of us in Europe will get onside – Europe needs to resist too.
    (Of course I could be more direct and say that a bully only changes his ways when confronted with a bigger bully.) But – hey – free trade is what it’s all about, no? Oh – free but not when it falls below your “standards”. I see. Shame about the developing world all round then. And what about all those US farm subsidies? Wasted money now, mate. The Africans may not have been able to compete, but the Chinese sure can. Don’t get me wrong, I’m on your side, America. Just wish you’d been on (y)our side when we were resisting it from you.
    (Stands back and awaits the tirade of “commie european blah, blah, blah”)

  33. GirlGoneRiled says:

    We’re totally hosed. As previous comments have so astutely pointed out, when it comes to money vs. anything else, money always wins. And this is what we get for it. Recently a woman I know – in all seriousness – advocated expanding our current war to include all sorts of countries so we can beat them into submission (yeah, that’s going really well right now) and secure a supply of oil “for our kids”. The instigation of her pique? Wal-Mart increased the price of Pop-Tarts by 30 cents a box – the Pop-Tarts to which she’s “entitled,” that she “needs,” and for which she is apparently ready to go to war.

    My advice: figure out a way to grow something- anything. Tomatoes and blueberries do well in containers, and squashes can be grown “up”. Make friends with some farmers not too far from where you live and get used to spending lots more for food. Oh, and hope the honeybees don’t get sicker.

  34. TheUpMyAssPlayers says:

    To whoever said “Don’t trsut the Chinese.”
    Please, shut up and don’t speak again until you grow a brain. There are enough asshats in the world.

    China is currently being devastated by Aids. Entire villages are dying, by the Thousands, because there are simply not enough resources to even Inform the public about the disease in rural or urban areas. So if they can’t get the word out that AIDS will kill you, its obvious they don’t have the manpower to check every single food manufacturer. And neither does the United States for that matter.

    China holds 25% of our national debt in the form of financing and bonds. They buy a ton of our crap and we buy a ton of their crap. Our two countries are inter-dependent whether you like it or not.

    In 2012 there will be 100,000,000 million cars on the road in China. Right now there are only 11 million. Forget asorbic acid, worry about your gas prices. Think they’re high now? They’ll be 6 bucks a gallon in a few years.

    I’ll be back in NYC by then and giddily riding the rails.

    In the meantime, instead of Only bitching here, how bout you start a grass roots letter writing campaign? Talk to your loved ones, friends, convince them that we don’t want the poultry for very good reasons, see if you can make them care.

    The mistake people in this and every other country make is they think they are powerless to stop the government machine, they aren’t. Get active, change your world.

    That is all.

  35. “China was exporting out all of the rice that wasn’t totally wasted and the Chinese in these communes were starving.”

    Just aside: The same thing happened to the Irish during the potato famine — the wharves were groaning with beef exports the Irish weren’t allowed to, you know, eat.

    Another thing about Chinese shipping is that it’s been Chinese shipping containers that have introduced most of our last several invasive insects — Asian Longhorned Beetle, Emerald Ash Borer (it’s going to do to the Ash what Dutch Elm did to Elms — don’t even bother buying Ash trees; in 15 years there won’t be any left), Gypsy Moth.

    The upside is cheap food and products. The downside is routine poison and destruction of the national ecosystem (particularly economically valuable hardwood forests). That makes the cheap start to look awfully expensive.

  36. bluemeep says:

    That list is absolutely horrifying. And that’s just the stuff they catch. What about the other 99%? It makes me a little ill just to think about it.

    I think I’ll plant that veggie garden now…

  37. @GirlGoneRiled: “My advice: figure out a way to grow something- anything. Tomatoes and blueberries do well in containers, and squashes can be grown “up”.”

    Woot! Lettuce is dead easy to grow and one of the things where garden taste is notably and vastly superior to supermarket taste. Onions are also really easy.

    And to repeat myself ad nauseum — a properly-planned and executed veggie garden requires less care time than a lawn. Initial set-up time is large, but thereafter care is very easy and quick.

  38. Lars says:

    Well, there’s a reason to not buy chicken parts (alluded to in the discussion of getting water logged chicken breasts at places like Wal-Mart). It’s kind of ridiculous to imagine what can happen to chicken meet with two global shippings in between processings.

    The vegetable bit is a bit scarry too. I need to start checking the labels on that.

  39. kerry says:

    Ugh. I buy a lot of my Chinese-food necessities (dried “vegetables”, sauces, etc) from the Chinese markets near my house. Now where do I go to get black vinegar? I’d never buy the seafood, because I seriously don’t know where that stuff came from, but the packaged goods are potentially poison, too? Maybe I’ll see how much of that stuff I can find at the Korean market, instead.

  40. FOOD = POISON

    How long before we “find out” that this contaminated food is why group with condition X is sick all the time?

  41. TinaB says:

    I’ve never been more grateful to be allergic to penicillin. No tainted meds for me! Woo!

  42. szamot says:

    you sure are all up in arms about this, but how else are you going to get $.99 burger at McYucks made with real meant and real cheese? Certainly not grown in US with real grain free range happy chicken. This is not news, it is a newsworthy scandal of the day that gets a day of attention and years and billions of dollars of business deals.

    It is interesting how we raise a huge stink because a few cats and dogs died from tainted food, yet no one ever questions why so many people are suddenly, in the last 20 years or so, dying of cancer every day. It sure is not because they eat fresh fruits and vegetables and clean and drug free meat.

    Perhaps there is something wrong with the food system to begin with? Why does it make sense to grow and kill chickens in US but still cheaper to ship them to China to take out the bones and portion them up and then ship them back to US. I smell a loophole here that the US producers are using. Perhaps the chickens leaving US for processing are not so good after all. WHO knows?

    My favorite quote here is the one about terrorism. Yes we must now declare war on China they are terrorists. Thanks pinhead I don’t know how no one has made that connection. –Diverting the 5th fleet to bomb all burger factories in China — we will save you from these terrorist burgers and chips and pop you just sit on your fat ass on the sofa and think up new ways to blame other people for your problems – say like a luck of independent thought, which now makes you your own terrorist for sabotaging your own well being.

    I would venture a guess that this problem was not created by China but by us. China is only filling in the need we created for cheaper, better food we all love to eat but don’t want to pay for. So we are back to square one, it all boils down to greed, by manufacturers and consumers alike.

  43. motard66 says:

    all i can say is: buy local, read labels, and find out where your food is coming from. i just learned that many (not all, just the cheap ones, mostly)pet foods contain rendered animals (animals purchased from animals shelters after being euthanized, COLLARS and all), road kill, and pretty much anypart of any animal killed by the meatpacking industry that is “not fit for human consumption.” All that crappy pet food (remember, your pets are eating dead housepets!) that was recalled from this melamine scare was then sent to poultry and pork plants and fed to chickens and pigs and it’s NOW BEING SOLD TO YOU.
    I’m not an extremist, and I’m no conspiracy theorist, but this scares the hell out of me.
    http://www.itchmo.com/recalls.html?source=badge_sm
    for more info.

  44. AngryBlueMan says:

    I do not understand why the mighty USA – breadbasket of the western world, imports food other than out of season fruit from south america. We have the capacity to feed all of our people and export. We are not using it? I had no idea the US imported grain before the dog food debacle. How far we have fallen.

  45. thrillhouse says:

    @motard66:
    “all i can say is: buy local, read labels, and find out where your food is coming from.”

    I’ll second that. Just another reason to buy local and organic in addition to growing your own veggies.

    In defense of China (not that I would condone their actions), I can see how this comes about. It comes from our corporations. Ours. Whether its computers, toys, picture frames, or pitted prunes, we constantly drive our overseas suppliers to cut costs, cut costs, and cut costs some more. Its the reason we are there – CHEAP. And they’ll do whatever it takes to keep that contract. Eventually, the margins thin, and to cost less you get less – and less and less. At some point safety goes out the window, and here comes the lead paint and pray we don’t get caught. Its not that Chinese suppliers set out to sell us food laced with 50 year old carcinogens and board games with recycled paper that happens to have pornographic images on them. But that is unfortunately what it has become.

  46. quantum-shaman says:

    @thrillhouse: You mean, kinda like how we paved the way for the Taliban by propping up the Shah of Iran over 60 years ago? Go USA!

  47. Scazza says:

    @szamot: I kinda feel bad for the states, McYuks up in the white north uses Alberta Beef only and it tastes about 10x better then the McYuks just over the boarder in Buffalo.

    For years, my family has completely avoided anything that was made in the asias and more times then not, have had to give up some foods after the companies decided to make their products there (like Ovaltine and Cadbury… who alot of times on store shelves, have “Made in Thailand” versions mixed in with their “Made in the UK” products…) We only buy local cut meats and fruit/vegies from the region (unless they are from the states, and even then we have been worried about lax US law). But even we are not sure how long we can dodge the bullet that is importing cheap shit…

    What is good, is that when Chinas economy finally begins to pick up even more, hopefully the countries wealth and minimum poverty will pick up, and inturn raise the cost of wages etc.. so that importing would be much harder… and in turn, stop the horrid flood of careless foods from the country.

  48. Scazza says:

    Also, the problem with just reading labels is that, even then, alot (ALOT!) of companies use foodstuffs that are perfectly fine here in north america. BUT they import them from china, and are usually tainted with all kinda of illegal chemicals.

    That hotdog your buying with filler in it, is fine, but it might be contaminated etc… Reading the labels isn’t always that useful. Sometimes you gotta just KNOW where your stuff is coming from…

  49. Scazza says:

    And a 3rd post: Even local meats can be infected thanks to animal feeds that contain products imported. Alot of animal feed comes from bigger companies, who jump at the cheap ingrediants from other countries… Or even grass-fed animals can still find pesticides etc that contain harmful chemicals that have leeched into the soil years ago, or from another location…

    Its bloody bleak…

  50. kerry says:

    @szamot: More and more people are dying of cancer because more and more people are living long enough to die of cancer and not malnutrition, heart disease, diabetes, the flu, massive infections, etc. Cancer started becoming a problem after the industrial revolution when people started living longer. There’s no question that some lifestyle choices and living conditions have an effect on cancer rates, but for a great deal of disease it’s simply a matter of age. Prostate cancer, for example, wasn’t very common until men started living past 70.

  51. @AngryBlueMan: Two words: Farm Bill.

    Our national ag policy has seriously perverse incentives built into it. Basically we pay our nation’s farmers to grow high fructose corn syrup. It is often substantially cheaper to buy asparagus from China than to even GROW YOUR OWN. (Yeah, I don’t actually even know if they grow asparagus in China. Just an example.)

    One problem that’s difficult to fix is that for us to export foodstuffs, we have to allow import from the same countries, so it’s much cheaper to buy imported cane sugar from plantations (that flirt with slave labor) than to buy beet sugar grown in the U.S., largely BECAUSE third-world countries can undercut wages and cost-of-living so much.

    But I really think we should make national food independence a priority. The state of our food supply and our agricultural infrastructure terrifies me.

  52. GirlGoneRiled says:

    @Eyebrows McGee: Wood back at you. Used to be that food security was considered an integral part of national security. Somewhere along the line we replaced food security with oil security and not even all that much of it.

    But, as with poptart lady, more people are interested in making sure they never have to make a hard choice than in covering even the basics for larger numbers of people. I read someone somewhere recently wondering if people were smarter than yeast – that is, would people get smart and stop producing toxins until every last person is dead. It’s so saddening to realize more and more every day that, no, people are *not* smarter than yeast.

  53. GirlGoneRiled says:

    @GirlGoneRiled:

    Uh, that’s “woot” back at you.

    Dumber than yeast be I.

  54. SactoKev says:

    I’ve always been curious as to why nearly all of China’s products are just plain crap. Seriously, how do you screw up surgical gloves? Isn’t the production process completely automated? How can anyone knowingly have their life’s work be garbage?

  55. robogun says:

    Well, if these products were really that bad, there wouldn’t be 1.3 billion Chinese would there. I think we are simply too fastidious and easilt grossed out. This is how you get low Wal-Mart prices, there is no other way. You can have low prices (for now, until China reaches Western wealth standards) or high quality, not both.

  56. Lula Mae Broadway says:

    Guess I just started shleping to Whole Foods a whole lot more often.

    Can’t believe how disturbing all this is…

    Worst of all is even if you read labels, you don’t know where the ingredients are coming from.

    And if you eat out… ai ai ai…

  57. synergy says:

    @Scazza: I wasn’t going to be a spelling anal retentive, but after 3+ uses of it…

    Many = a lot (two words)
    Allot (two Ls) = to distribute

  58. Frank Grimes says:

    To understand how this can came about there was an interesting story in The Economist that showed that in fact it can be cheaper, and greener to eat lamb from New Zealand in Great Britain than from England because of the efficiencies of the supply chain. No mention if the food could be crap though:

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2223bc2e-f14c-11db-838b-000b5df106

    Also, to illustrate how crazy this can be, I work for a Danish shipping line. What are the Danes known for, Butter Cookies, where are the “Danish Butter Cookies” made we give away (about 200K tins a year), China.

  59. Chris_Knight says:

    In regards to shopping at places like Whole Foods…

    I have a bag of “365 Organic – Everyday Value” frozen “Organic Vegetable Blend” in front of me right now. On the back, under the Texas address for Whole Foods, and under the emblems of the various organizations that certify these veggies as organic, in small print are these words: “PRODUCT OF CHINA”. (Their all-caps, not mine.)

    While I liek Whole Foods, I do not believe that they inspect every shipment or spot check veggies for non-organic-certified contaminates. They are just as subject to getting swindled as everyone else, and it will be their trusting customers who suffer if it happens.

    Chris Knight

  60. nuton2wheels says:

    @bunnyfoofoo:

    As an American asian of chinese ancestry, I think you’re just being a whiny, ignorant toddler. The race card is a joker in the deck, and jokers aren’t wild.

    I don’t think this has anything to do with “a few bad people.” This is about a culture whose primary underlying goal is to do everything and anything to make a dollar. Those who become ill or die as a result are simply insignificant casualties and are of no concern. The United States is on its way to this unfortunate end by china’s hands. I hope you aren’t immature enough to believe that only “a few” people deal in this sort of deception. It’s an entire nation of competing businesses staffed by workers who subscribe to the aforementioned opportunistic and myopic mindset. When the chinese government “cracks down” on dishonest subjects as a token of good faith to their American counterparts, others rush in to fill the void.

    Consumerist is addressing the situation with buzzwords and adjectives they would use for any other UNSCRUPULOUS business, which sufficiently describes these chinese merchants and their corrupt government as a whole. When items that would otherwise be subject to high inspection standards (i.e. beef) are deliberately mislabeled to avoid scrutiny, diethylene glycol is labeled as “glycerin” because it’s a cheap but deadly replacement and 100 people die, and melamine tainted livestock feed threatens our existence the words DECEPTIVE and INFERIOR come to my mind. But Consumerist is nicer than me.

  61. nuton2wheels says:

    @GirlGoneRiled:

    Exactly. The “terror” we fear is the devil inside.

  62. dubsix says:

    Here’s a tip, people.

    The market supplies the consumer(ist) with what it wants – unfortunately the American public wants, no, demands the cheapest possible goods, and forces producers to supply them. In order to do so corners must be cut. It’s a race to the bottom and the finish line is in sight.

  63. BigDad says:

    For years the Japanese have had a method of dealing with shoddy (or competing)food products snet to their shores. They simply impounded said fresh prouce for “Inspection” until it was no longer fit to use and then rejected it. Sounds like we could learn something from our trading partners (actually competitors).

  64. rikkus256 says:

    @bunnyfoofoo:

    This is what China is doing to Taiwan. The Chinese government purposely allow the export of all kind of cheap, poison craps (food, cloth, illegal immigrants, bird flus, SARS, everything) to Taiwan, in the purpose to ruin Taiwan’s economic, health environment, society. I wouldn’t say it’s just “a few” Chinese doing this. It definitely look like the Chinese government is behind this. And there isn’t much Taiwan can do about it. Why? Becuase just like the U.S., no country is able to inspect every single one of the import goods.

  65. Jesus On A Pogo Stick says:

    @szamot:

    “Diverting the 5th fleet to bomb all burger factories in China — we will save you from these terrorist burgers and chips and pop you just sit on your fat ass on the sofa and think up new ways to blame other people for your problems – say like a luck of independent thought, which now makes you your own terrorist for sabotaging your own well being.”

    Oh that’s great!! You just gave me a much needed laugh..

  66. oldhat says:

    It’s funny how some folks completely miss sarcastic remarks…they get all upset over a joke thinking it’s real, which is waaay funnier.

  67. bunnyfoofoo says:

    @nut on two wheels,

    Thanks for the personal attack. I shall also call you a whiny, ignorant toddler. Also thank you for the clever metaphor involving joker race cards, it manages to mix two cliches in a shallow and delightfully puzzling fashion. Now that that’s out of the way, I shall only reiterate the following two points. If you want to present a serious argument regarding global commerce, you may want to:

    1. Watch your generalizations. Don’t mix up people and their governments, and don’t mix up businesses and their workers.

    2. Be wary that terms like “deceptive” and, uh, “inferior” tread dangerously close to age-old stereotypes that intelligent people have long since dismissed. If you have clear points to make regarding the failures of China’s government and corporations, then make them. You may, however, want to incorporate some balance and nuance into your points; rushing to the convenient stereotypes can make you seem foolish.

    Out like trout.

  68. Maplewood says:

    You get what you pay for …
    Imagine selling that gas-hog SUV, that ridiculous gigantic TV with 300 channels, the tanning bed in your basement, and giving up WalMart shopping sprees: you’d have plenty of money to buy organic, local food for the rest of your lives…
    Boo-hoo. It’s buyer beware, and if one is literate, then the burden is on the literate to read, think, and choose appropriately… although that didn’t work out so well in the last two presidential elections… oh forget it, we’re all screwed. By the time anyone figures out how they were poisoned by the Chinese, my mad cow disease will have taken hold and a ‘nuculer’ holocaust will have left only cockroaches, brown recluse spiders, and republicans to pick through the rubble.

  69. country-mouse says:

    the problem with locally grown food is finding laborers to work the fields. from conversation with local organic farms, you would need to pay $20-$30 per hour for farm help (hey, field work is hot and hard labor). this translates to a 3x to 6x food price increase. can you afford for your food bill to jump that much? you probably could if you ditched cell phones, high speed internet and cable.

    as for Chinese behavior, they are acting the way any good capitalist would. externalize all possible costs onto others and evade responsibility as long as possible. see Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle”


    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Jungle

  70. ahwannabe says:

    Labeling food as non-food in order to get past inspectors is definitely “deceptive”, and food that KILLS people and animals certainly sounds “inferior” to me. And neither word has anything to do with ethcnic stereotypes.

  71. G-Dog says:

    So, aren’t money and profits an ideal of the capitalist pigs? If so, why is China so willing to accept ours?

  72. erica.blog says:

    @szamot:

    Why does it make sense to grow and kill chickens in US but still cheaper to ship them to China to take out the bones and portion them up and then ship them back to US.

    Hear, hear. And it’s also not comforting to know that said chicken sits on a ship for four weeks traveling out there, then another four weeks traveling back, not counting processing time…

  73. LearningForever says:

    The tone of this post is scary.

    We need to make 1 thing really clear. If there were no buyers in US, there will be no suppliers. The law of economics is Supply and Demand. I believe that China wants to import to US because there is clear profit. However, they do have their own people to feed. There are probably many other nations that would welcome their imports too.

    We need to remember that China imported to US because many big US companies think that it is cost saving and economical to buy from China. “Global supply Chain” is what is always talked about in every operational meeting in big companies. Take a look at Walmart, Home Depot where the main supplier now is their own private branded goods from China.

    The reason why there are goods from China is because a company wants to make a BIGGER profit than what they are used to. Because they want to increase the profits when their sales are down. There are many reasons.

    The best part about everything is that the companies are the one making the money, while the government, and consquently, the taxpayers are the one paying the dues.

  74. GirlGoneRiled says:

    @LearningForever:

    The thing is, China practically *owns* us. Remember in the 80s when Japanese businessmen were buying up apartments in big cities and golf courses all over the country? People here went nuts about “losing” sovereign land to ‘dem furriners.

    Just a few years later, though, China began buying up US debt and currency. No one said a word about their buying spree because it helped us get all the cheap crap we wanted. But now, we do anything at all that they don’t like and they can tank our economy faster than it takes to run through a McD’s drivethru.

    China’s holding the puppet strings, and all we can do now is dance.

  75. LearningForever says:

    @GirlGoneRiled:

    I sort of agree that China practically “Owns” a lot of the US economy. However, remember that these imports come into a US port because some company in US bought them from China. These companies definitely have the obligation to have proper procedures in place to inspect the goods that belong to them. (not just when the goods are at the port of entry, but also at different stages of the chain)

    However, because there is no stict rules in place, these companies can chose to neglect inspection, they let their quality control slip.

    When things are ok and not ok, these companies are the ones pocketing the profit. When something goes terribly wrong, the blame goes to the government or the FDA or USDA for not inspecting enough.

    What happens next. The agencies need to find more $$ to sponser the labor increase. They increase the tax WE have to pay, they cut corners on other departments that needs the money etc. But the original companies will stil make a BIGGER profit.

    I am not saying that it is all these companies fault. What I am saying is that they need to be more responsible to the effects of their methods on the US economy and health.

    (p.s. Do not shit where you eat. I wonder how many of these CEOs, high level executives really eat the food that is imported from Overaseas. For all we know, the food that they eat are all LOCAL and ORGANIC)

  76. BanChineseProducts says:

    We as the consumers have the power to stop this by not spending money on Chinese goods. Let’s start from this second, be conscience and careful with every single little thing we buy, and let the big corporation know that we will not tolerate this!

    Chinese groceries come from not only China. Japan, Taiwan, Hong Kong, USA, and Canada have factories making Chinese condiments and farms growing Chinese vegetables.

    Together we can stop the evil big corporations from treating us like nothing.

  77. Brutuslebee says:

    bunnyfoofoo, you state as an asian-American you find certain words and or phrases borderline. Have you ever lived in China? Do you really know the Chinese culture? And not the immigrant culture of America who have now been here for several generations and have been greatly assimilated. So please stop your caterwauling.
    Thank you for your support1

  78. ravuya says:

    Based upon the FDA OASIS list ( http://www.fda.gov/ora/oasis/ora_ref_cntry.html ) it appears that India is also getting their fair bit of poison into our food supply.

    India and China seem to be jockeying for the “winning” position over the last few months. I suspect it’s the same quality of government, regulatory quality and irresponsible misconduct.

  79. Trackback says:

    Homeland Stupidity looks at the heckuva job FEMA’s still doing; T-Sides gets loud and heavy, then adds a couple more versions of “These Days” to the pile; Ickmusic has a killer boot two-fer: Live Petty & The Heartbreakers (1980) and live Miles Davis (1971); Consumerist looks…

  80. tabascoishot says:

    @Brutuslebee:

    I’m glad that you’re worldly and discerning enough to separate Asian-Americans from “real” Chinese people, and that you are in fact the arbiter of what Chinese immigrants should think and espouse when it comes to matters concerning China.

    Oh, and if some Chinese food scare ever hits the states and (God forbid) some folks end up hospitalized or killed, let’s hope that the generalizations employed by the Consumerist and others in the comments page don’t cloud or muddle your ability to discern and adjudicate amongst the slanty-eyed and yellow-skinned inhabitants of our American society!

    Tell me what to think, oh wise masters!

  81. Usthathunt says:

    Usthathunt; bunnyfoofoo, you should have added the letter ‘L’ at the end of foo foo . your wishy washey words don’t really face the reality or the seriousness of the situation . Chinas growing food problems is a chefs nightmare . Erecting chicken cages over their fish ponds so that the droppings fall in the water to feed their talapia , catfish ,turbot ,etc. is crazy . also using human feces to fertilize their crops doesn’t set well with me . over 4000 cats & dogs died from liver problems associated with chinas pet food . Sorry , did i say FOOD . I hope that everyone avoids food and other products made in china . I certainly do . Most of this garbage is being sold at WALMARTS .

  82. Usthathunt says:

    BY; USTHATHUNT; Buyer beware . About nine months ago I purchased a Dell computer along with the fax,scanner & printer . I had constant trouble with the fax , kept jamming up the paper so I called the sales dept. at Dell’s to complain . They admitted they were having problems with that item . They sent me a prepaid shipping label & I returned it. That same day I encountered many problems with the computer . Tech Support is from India . I wasn’t able to converse with them because I could not understand half of what they were saying. I called them 12 times in ten days trying to retify the problems, to no avail . My address book would disappear , pop up blockers were a nightmare , screen turned white , everything imaginable happened . Even my keyboard had about ten charactors that failed to work . couldn’t even send or receive e-mails . Finally I called Dell sales and told them about the many problems I was having with Tech Support & the computer and that I was going to send it back . The lady at Dell told me that if I was going to return the computer , keyboard & screen that I owed Dell an additional $239.00 . I said what for ? She said I would have to pay them to get it fixed & that they would then have to sell it ” AS USED ” She also told me that I would be required to pay for shipping costs . I asked her what kind of warranty they had with this product . She told me that after twenty days that I would have to KEEP everything . I told her that this product was defective since day one and that I wasn’t going to pay no $239.00 . Also I only had this computer for ten days — not twenty days . Finally , she transferred me to another dept. for returned items . I had to pay for shipping it back ( $41.00). You guessed it , Dell is made in China ( by no doubt 12 & 13 year olds that know nothing about these products). What a disaster .They apparantly have no quality control over there . I had my new computer custom made here in the states for approximately $200.00 more . Money well spent .I have had this one for eight months now & never had a problem .

  83. Usthathunt says:
  84. Ncisfan says:

    I think we should ban everything coming from china.
    because not only are the foodstuffs they export unsafe. but so are medicines and toys and even some of their electronics.plus it would put jobs back in the hands of American citizens!

  85. bspin says:

    I am so angered at the companies that have taken their business production out of the USA and other countries that are up to environmental and safety codes and are now producing their goods in China and other regions that are not up to speed. In other words, not only have thousands of US companies abandoned their workers here, but they are now threatening the health of the very same people and all of the US and the Chinese workers in those plants. Honestly, moving production bases to China could have been an amazingly positive experience had factories and production lines been built ‘green’, sustainable and long term worker friendly. Instead our business men pressed for years for extensions on getting up to environmental code in this country and instead of complying used that extra time to go over to China. Now we have cheap and deadly products so that they can increase the small pyramid of profit for their stockholders. What’s the solution? Personally, when ever I find a product that I used to buy is now made in China I write a letter explaining my disappointment and then I buy an alternative made in the US or I go without. China is not the main issue here, it is the companies both originators of China and the US that are employing these shady practices, hurting their own people and ours.