Despite the U.S. Food and Drug Administration’s repeated warnings, the latest just this October, about Made-in-China jerky treats suspected of causing thousands of illnesses and deaths of American dogs and cats since 2007, the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) gave approval for four Chinese poultry processors to import into the United States, thereby lifting a ban set to protect Americans against deadly avian influenza breakouts.
The contaminated chicken jerky were recalled and blamed for 2,500 animal illnesses and more than 500 dogs’ deaths. The FDA later found falsified documents, mislabels, and import shortcuts.
Samantha Olson reports for Medical Daily, Sept. 5, 2013, that the Chinese poultry processors will only be allowed to re-export heat-treated/cooked chicken that has been initially slaughtered in the U.S. or another country.
In other words, the chickens are first slaughtered in the United States or another country like Mexico, then shipped to China where the dead chickens would be cooked, then shipped back to the United States to be sold to consumers!
According to the USDA report, the audit that took place in March found China’s chicken plants were up to the same processing standard as those in the United States, which means that the products are “safe, wholesome, unadulterated, and properly labeled.” However, no USDA inspectors will be present in the Chinese processing plants, which means American consumers are not guaranteed that their chicken is being processed in safe and sanitary conditions.
Just this year, bird flu infected nearly 30 people in China, which caused a temporary shutdown of wet markets and the possibility of a permanent ban on the sale of live poultry in Shanghai. After the human death toll in China rose to six earlier this year, 20,000 birds were euthanized as a precautionary measure.
In addition to the contaminated chicken jerky treats for pets, China has aninfamous reputation as one of the world’s worst food safety offenders of pet and human food contaminated with pesticides, chemicals, and outright poisons. I compiled the following chronological list of Chinese food safety incidents fromWikipedia, which reads like a horror story:
- In 2003, small producers of Jinhua ham in China soaked their ham in the pesticide Dichlorvos.
- In 2004, hundreds of babies in China died from or suffered malnutrition from ingesting fake powdered milk that contained only 1-6% protein instead of the minimum national requirement of 10% protein.
- Also in 2004, at last 6 men died of alcohol poisoning in China after drinking fake liquor made from industrial alcohol and rice wine.
- Also in 2004, soy sauces manufactured in China and quietly exported to other countries were discovered to have been made with amino acid syrup (or powder) from human hair that had been gathered from salon, barbershop and hospitals around the country, mixed with condoms, used hospital cottons, used menstrual cycle pad, used syringe, etc. In response, the Chinese government banned production of soy sauces made from hair, but other carcinogens such as 3-MCPD remain.
- In 2006, Chinese officials discovered illegal amounts of chemicals in theturbot fish — of prohibited antibiotics, carcinogenic nitrofuran metabolites, and malachite green, which is a triarylmethane dye.
- Also in 2006, Greenpeace tested vegetables in two Hong Kong grocery stores and discovered that over 70% of their samples were covered in pesticide residue exceeding safe levels; some samples tested positive for illegal pesticides, such as DDT, HCH and Lindane. Nearly 80% of vegetables in these grocery stores originated from mainland China.
- In 2007, thousands of U.S. dogs and cats died or got sick from eating melamine-contaminated Made-in-China pet food.
- Also in 2007, a hundred Chinese manufacturers of stinky (or fermented) tofu were found to use a combination of sewage, slop, and Iron(II) sulfate to accelerate production and improve appearance of theirfermented product.
- In 2008, hundreds of Japanese fell ill after consuming Chinese-produced pork dumplings (jiaozi) tainted with the pesticides methamidophos, Dichlorvos and Parathion.
- Also in 2008, it was announced that the Whole Foods supermarket chain in the United States had been selling powdered ginger produced in China, which was labeled as organic food, but when tested was found to contain the banned pesticide Aldicarb. The ginger had been mistakenly certified organic by Quality Assurance International, who relied on two Chinese certifiers because, under Chinese law, foreigners may not inspect Chinese farms.
- Also in 2008, an outbreak of kidney disease among Chinese babies occurred, due to baby formula contaminated by melamine. Six babies died and 294,000 were made sick by the tainted formula with 51,900 requiring hospitalization. The supplier of the milk, Sanlu Group, is a name brand and a major player in the industry in China. The company is said to have known of the problem for months, but claims the contaminant came from milk suppliers.
- Also in 2008, certain egg products produced by Hanwei Group were found to be contaminated with melamine.
- In 2009, tapioca pearls used for bubble tea were adulterated with macromolecular polymers, i.e., plastic, to “improve” their texture;steamed buns (mantou) contained the pesticide Dichlorvos (to “improve” chewiness and texture) and sulphur (to whiten the buns).
- Also in 2009, duck meat sold as lamb had been marinated in goat or sheep urine to give the duck the smell and taste of lamb; most of the pork blood pudding in Chinese markets contained little actual blood, but was manufactured with formaldehyde, corn starch, industrial grade salt, and artificial food coloring.
- In 2010 and ongoing, gutter oil — oil that has already been used and is then processed by cleaning and filtering — was/is resold as a cheaper alternative to normal cooking oil. The sources of gutter oil are restaurant fryers, sewers, and leftover or used oil sold by restaurants. A newer version of gutter oil uses discarded animal parts, animal fat, internal organs, and expired or otherwise low quality meat which is then cooked in large vats in order to extract the oil.
- In 2012, contaminated strawberries from China infected over 11 thousand children in Germany with Norovirus.
- In 2013, the carcasses of over 15000 pigs were found drifting in Huangpu River, caused by a crack-down on illicit pig-trade. Local pork dealers had been buying up dead meat unfit for sale, processed it in illegal workshops, and then re-introduced the products into the legal market.
- Also in 2013, China’s Ministry of Public Security released a press statement warning Shanghai consumers of lamb meat that actually was either rat, fox or mink meat; six workshops in Shaanxi province were shut down for producing fake beef by mixing pork with paraffin wax and industrial salts; cats slaughtered at a “black” slaughterhouse near Shanghai were sold as rabbit meat.
- Also in 2013, Wenzhou police uncovered 10 underground mills that were using o large amounts of chemical additives and coloring agents to cleanout-of-date chicken drumsticks, wings and ducks’ heads prior re-selling them to public.
- Most recently, in August 2013, rice tainted with unsafe levels of the toxic cancer-causing metal, cadmium, was found in southern China.
See also “China’s purchase of iconic U.S. Smithfield Foods raises food safety questions,” Oct. 25, 2013.
Dr. C is the Editor of Consortium of Defense Analysts.