Large companies routinely rely on private audits to prove that their food is safe even though private auditors are dangerously incompetent, according to a New York Times investigation. The private auditor who inspected the Peanut Corporation of America plant responsible for unleashing the massive salmonella contamination was trained to audit bakeries and repeatedly gave the plant a “SUPERIOR” rating, partly because he “never thought that [salmonella] would survive in the peanut butter type environment.”
chinese poison train
Twenty-two dairy companies sent out a text message to millions of Chinese consumers last week to apologize for selling tainted milk products. According to the BBC, it read, “We are deeply sorry for the harm caused to the children and the society. We sincerely apologise for that and we beg your forgiveness.”
You know what would make for some good drywall? The waste materials from scrubbers on coal-fired power plants. That’s apparently what some Chinese manufacturers thought during the housing boom. When they leak and combine with the moisture on AC coils, the result is sulfuric acid, according to complaints by some Floridian homeowners. The acid dissolves the coils on the AC units and in some cases the units fail. Imagine what it does to your lungs.
Thanks to big companies like Mattel, this may be the last Christmas season for a lot of handmade or custom toys from small businesses.
If you’re getting dental implant work done, you may want to ask if they outsource to other countries. A KPHO investigation bought 13 crowns from labs in China, Thailand and the US. Ten of them came back positive for lead, with levels from 110 parts per million to 240 parts per million. The problem may be from the surface stain used to whiten and brighten the teeth. Throughout history, lead has been used in paints because it’s bright, cheap, and highly durable.
Just how much lead was in that toy blood pressure cuff Mattel were so reluctant to recall back in February? The one they said “me federal regulations and international consumer product safety standards?” Well, a reader’s scientist friend working in lab tested it on the equipment there. According to his results, the amount of lead in the paint was 4-5% lead by weight. “For reference,” he writes, “U.S. EPA HUD guidelines set the action limit for paint at 0.5% lead by weight. Any level over 0.5% is considered to be contaminated…Lead paint used on houses 50 years ago had lead content of 2-15%.”
The New York Times reports that the FDA is now working under the assumption that the deadly contamination of heparin was intentional. In her prepared testimony before a congressional subcommittee, Janet Woodcock, director of the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation said,
FDA’s working hypothesis is that this was intentional contamination, but this has not been proven.
More details, inside…
The Senate finally voted last week to send the ailing Consumer Product Safety Commission desperately needed funds, staff, and powers. The overdue reform bill passed with bipartisan support on a 79-13 vote.
A 10-year-old elementary school student found a razor blade in the Pokemon lollipop he was about to hand to his sister. Dollar General, which sold the lollipop for $1, immediately recalled the remaining Pokemon Valentine Cards and Pops from its 8,300 stores, but they are concerned that “most of this candy has already been purchased.”
Thomas the Tank Engine makers have settled a class-action-lawsuit against for $30 million, stemming from their production of anthropomorphic toy trains brought to life with lead-tainted paint. Under the terms, RC2 will give cash refunds or replacement toys, plus a “bonus” toy. Hopefully this time RC2 will check to make sure the apology choo-choos aren’t lead-tainted as well.
Kosher certification is the new darling of health-conscious consumers who misguidedly believe that biblically blessed health standards can reign in the excesses of commercial food production. Even Chinese exporters are betting that kosher certification can convince foreign consumers that their wares are safe. To companies, certification is just a marketing tool: it lends the aura of safety without offering any actual food safety benefits.
Many Chinese companies were unfamiliar with the concept: One furniture maker asked for kosher certification, drawing a polite rebuff. Another facility asked to get certified as kosher even though it was smoking eel on site, a kosher no-no. The company was turned down; it is now building a separate, kosher-only facility.
If pending legislation passes, the CPSC may make retailers test their wares, and make retailers legally responsible for the products they sell. CPSC chair Nancy Nord said yesterday at a press conference, “the ultimate responsibility at the end of the day to make sure that their products are safe and if they do not, we will take enforcement activity at the product sellers.”
Walmart is still selling lead-tainted Baby Connection bibs that were recalled last May. Reader Jeff made the discovery after his wife accidentally purchased two packs of recalled bibs for their 4-month-old daughter while vacationing in the Poconos.
Economists and politicians rant about China in terms of jobs lost, currency valuation, and trade gaps. But the New York Times reports that a new metric has been discovered: every year, Chinese workers manufacturing our toys, garments and electronic junk in the Peal River Delta collectively break 40,000 fingers.
Well we’re glad that’s taken care of. Wait… the Toy Industry Association is a trade group, not a federal agency! At any rate, on February 1st the Toy Industry Association, a 500-member strong group, will “release a draft of tough new safety rules, which include a plan to require manufacturers to test toys for hazardous chemicals and defective designs.” According to CNN, the group is drafting the 3-point plan with at least the awareness, if not the help, of the CPSC, and it hopes to have the plan formally certified as the CPSC’s “new standard for toy safety.”
Ever wonder where your goat meat came from? No? Well several Senators did, so their chamber’s version of the farm bill extends country of origin labeling to chickens, macadamia nuts, and goat meat. The labels, which are already required for beef, pork, lamb, peanuts, fresh fruits, and vegetables, should appear by late next year.
China will allow US food inspectors to be posted inside its factories. No doubt the factory owners will adapt by processing food outside the factory. [NYT]