If you’re looking for a photograph to illustrate how our economy has changed over the past few months, take a look at this. No, that’s not a parking lot in a town where everyone has the same taste. It’s the Port of Long Beach, where “thousands of cars worth tens of millions of dollars are being warehoused,” unwanted by the dealers who used to sell them. They’re imports — Mercedes-Benz, Toyota, and Nissan orphans.
It’s hard to think of an object that isn’t made of wood or packaged or encounters wood at some point in its journey through the economy. Any number of household items that you can buy at Walmart, like a toilet seat for instance, may very well be made from Russian wood.
If what this alleged Restoration Hardware employee says is true, the home furnishings chain may have just sacrificed its last remaining claim to distinction—high quality, American-made furniture—in an effort to increase profits. Supposedly, shoppers will see the effect of outsourced furniture through lower prices. RH furniture was always known to be fairly good stuff, if not cheap—can we now expect cheap but not good?
The EPA has announced that it intends to ban a pesticide, carbofuran, from both domestic and imported food because of the danger it poses to “general population” particularly small children. The pesticide isn’t commonly used in the United States but is popular in developing nations and is sprayed on “crops including rice, bananas, coffee and sugar cane,” according to the Washington Post.
A reader in Redding, California was shopping at the local Winco and saw this ultra-patriotic bag of frozen tilapia—if it were any prouder to be an American it would have to start singing country music. But when glugory turned the bag over, the phrase “Product of China” was stamped across the bottom. “So now these bastards are lulling you into a false sense of patriotism in order to sell their commie fish,” writes glugory. That might be overstating it a bit, but we’re fans of overstating things here at Consumerist, so… yeah! Damned commie fish! Remember: never trust packaging. It’s just marketing you can hold.
Brian found this funny juxtaposition of a news story and a “deal” on a digital photo picture frame on techbargains.com.
United Airlines Flight UA897 from Washington to Beijing landed in China with a mice infestation onboard, reported a Chinese state official on Monday: “Eight mice, dead and (alive), were found at last … hidden in pillows.” An “emergency team” boarded the craft and “put rat poison and mouse traps at every possible corner on the aircraft, including the cockpit… the surviving mice were sent to labs for testing.”
Ah, the game is afoot, China! See how the worm turns! Cliché #3 should go here! China has pulled some unofficially imported (from the U.S.) Pringles chips because they contain potassium bromate, a preservative that we Americans happily ingest in order to breed a race of lumpy super-capitalists—but that China, Hong Kong, and other countries have banned “because tests have found it to be carcinogenic.”
Today the White House will announce its own plan for how to tighten the country’s slack product safety practices. The proposal is being offered as an alternative to the one Congress has come up with, which the White House—along with industry trade groups and Consumer Product Safety Commission head Nancy A. Nord—think is too mean to manufacturers.
The White House version suggests stationing inspectors in other countries to inspect goods before they are shipped to U.S. shores, because “with $2 trillion in imports annually, inspections at the ports had become ineffective.” We’re not sure how the math works on that one—unless sharks or pirates consume large amounts of imports during transit, the same number of goods leave foreign ports and arrive at ours, and having inspectors all in one place where they can work together, instead of spread out in each foreign country, seems a more efficient use of resources. But we’re probably just stupid from too much lead.
The Administration envisions a future where science and technology keep our food supply safe and secure. The multi-agency working group tasked with improving food safety has yet to agree on final recommendations, but both interest groups and the Administration seem dead set against new inspectors. Instead, the working group wants to build upon the current system of random inspections to better target potential dangers among the $2.2 trillion worth of goods imported each year.
The New York Times took a look at some European toy makers who decided to let the Chinese Poison Train pass them by. Why didn’t they outsource their manufacturing to China?
Meet Wu Yi. The 68-year old Vice Premier, the highest ranking woman in the Communist Party, has been tasked with one mission: toss the Chinese Poison Train back into the rapidly industrializing nation’s toy-chest.
NHTSA ordered the recall after Foreign Tire Sales told the agency that some of Hangzhou Zhongce’s tires were made without a safety feature, called a gum strip, that helps bind the belts of a tire to each other. Some of the tires had a gum strip about half the width of the 0.6 millimeter gum strip Foreign Tire Sales expected, the importer said.
The California Department of Public Health is warning American consumers not to eat ginger imported from China because it might contain a dangerous pesticide.
Both The Washington Post and The New York Times have done a magnificent job examining the complex nature of the Chinese Poison Train, but the Times finally cut to the chase and asked the million-dollar question: can China tame the Chinese Poison Train? The solution requires China to reform an ailing regulatory regime.
As many as 17 bureaucracies have overlapping responsibilities in just the food and drug sphere, and they jealously guard their power. The Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Agriculture, the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine have all vied for monitoring roles.
Formaldehyde, illegal dyes, and industrial wax were found being used to make candy, pickles, crackers and seafood, it said, citing Han Yi, an official with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which is responsible for food safety.
An importer of tires based in New Jersey is asking the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration for help recalling 450,000 imported light truck tires from China, according to CNN Money. The tires are the focus of a lawsuit involving a fatal crash “in which two construction workers were killed and a third was severely injured when a van rolled over,” according to the New York Times. The lawyer representing the lawsuit claims that the company only came forward after being named in the suit. From CNN Money:
The tires, made by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber Co., have an insufficient or missing gum strip, a safety feature that helps prevent the tires from separating, the lawyers and a consumers’ group said in a statement. The group, Safety Research & Strategies, is urging retailers and wholesalers to stop selling the tires.
The importer says the tires were sold under the names Westlake, Telluride Compass and YKS.
Two Chicagoans have been hospitalized after eating poisonous pufferfish that was imported to the US mislabeled as harmless monkfish. Pufferfish is a delicacy in Japan, but
“Chefs must be licensed and usually undergo at least two years of training on how to safely remove the toxic parts of the fish.