Archive for the ‘food safety’ Category

China Announces Food Safety Rules

November 20, 2008

The Chinese government, struggling to contain the fallout from a scandal over contaminated milk and eggs, announced a wide range of food safety measures on Thursday aimed at reining in abuses in the dairy industry.

The State Council, China’s cabinet, issued several new rules it says will govern all aspects of the industry, from cow breeding and animal feed to the packaging and sales of milk.

By Andrew Jacobs
The New York Times

 
An official prepared to destroy confiscated milk powder in Shanghai last week. Photo: Reuters

Since September, when Chinese-made milk powder was found to be adulterated with the industrial chemical melamine, at least four infants who drank the formula have died and more than 50,000 children have fallen ill. On Thursday, China’s Health Ministry said that more than 1,000 infants were still hospitalized with kidney damage, Reuters reported. The scandal has led to recalls of milk products across the world, embarrassed the Chinese government and devastated domestic dairy farmers and milk producers.

“The crisis has put China’s diary industry in peril and exposed major problems existing in the quality control and supervision of the industry,” said an official with China’s National Development and Reform Commission, according to a posting on the agency’s Web site.

In announcing the new measures, the government said it would issue new laws and standards by next October, and that by 2011, “the goal is to have well-bred cows and a mass-producing dairy industry,” according to Xinhua, the official news agency. The government said it would also provide loans and grants to dairy farmers and milk producers struggling to survive the crisis.

This is not the first time regulators have pledged to clean up the nation’s fast-growing agriculture industry. A similar cry erupted early last year when it was discovered that melamine-tainted pet food ingredients from China had sickened thousands of cats and dogs in the United States. At that time, the government promptly banned melamine as an animal feed additive and declared the problem under control.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/21/world/
asia/21milk.html?_r=1&hp

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China to overhaul battered dairy industry

November 20, 2008

China announced a complete overhaul of its dairy industry Thursday to improve safety at every step — from cow breeding to milk sales — saying its worst food quality scandal in years had revealed “major problems” in quality control.

Changes will be made within the next year in production, purchasing, processing and sales, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

By TINI TRAN, Associated Press Writer

Li Xiaoyan near her mother Li Aiqing at their home in Liti village, ... 
Li Xiaoyan near her mother Li Aiqing at their home in Liti village, near Runan, central China’s Henan province, Sunday, Oct. 19, 2008. Li Xiaoyan’s nine month old twin sister, Li Xiaokai who has been drinking a brand of milk formula linked to the melamine scandal died from kidney failure.(AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)

“The crisis has put China’s dairy industry in peril and exposed major problems existing in the quality control and supervision of the industry,” it quoted an official at China’s top economic planning body, the National Development and Reform Commission, as saying.

Milk and milk products tainted with melamine, an industrial chemical, have been blamed in the deaths of at least three infants and have sickened more than 50,000 others. The government has detained dozens of people in the scandal, but there have been no court cases so far.

The State Council, China’s Cabinet, said the Health Ministry will issue new quality and safety standards for dairy products, while the Agriculture Ministry will draft inspection standards for melamine and other toxins in animal feed. The flow and delivery of dairy products will also be tracked, it said in a statement.

The breadth and speed of the proposed changes echo actions taken last year, when a slew of Chinese exports — from toothpaste to toys — were found to contain high levels of potentially deadly chemicals.

After an initial unwillingness to acknowledge problems, authorities threw themselves into a campaign to protect export industries and bolster the country’s reputation as the world’s manufacturing base.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081120/ap_on_re_as/as_china_tainted_
milk;_ylt=AhZrN5Td5pCQTHOhcIrKoRWs0NUE

U.S. says food, drug inspection access in China improving

November 19, 2008

U.S. officials opened the first overseas Food and Drug Administration office in Beijing on Wednesday as they gear up for a long battle to ensure the quality of food, drug and feed imports from China.

The eight FDA workers in Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou will set up a process for pre-certifying and inspecting imports from China, which has hundreds of thousands of food processors and drug manufacturers.

A series of food safety scandals in China, where thousands of babies fell ill after melamine was introduced into milk formula to cheat protein tests, has triggered alarm in the United States, which imports about 15 percent of the food it consumes.

By Lucy Hornby, Reuters

A laboratory researcher works at the food safety inspection ...
A laboratory researcher works at the food safety inspection center in Beijing July 18, 2007.(China Daily/Reuters)

Problems with melamine-tainted dairy products from China were so pervasive that the United States issued an import alert, which force importers to certify that the food was problem-free before entering U.S. markets. A similar alert has been in effect on Chinese seafood since last year.

U.S. inspectors have complained in the past of limited access and information when investigating safety disputes with Chinese suppliers and manufacturers, but U.S. Secretary of Health Mike Leavitt said cooperation was improving.

Access was “clearly spelled out” in agreements between U.S. and Chinese authorities, Leavitt told reporters.

“Heparin, for example, was not one of the drugs under the agreement but those protocols were used and there were U.S. inspectors and Chinese inspectors together visiting the points of production,” he said. “Progress is being made.”

Chinese-made heparin, a blood thinner, was blamed for fatalities and adverse reactions in U.S. and German patients, prompting a recall by Baxter International Inc. early this year.

The FDA offices would try to identify and train laboratories that can certify shipments for faster clearance into the United States, with the goal of ultimately accepting inspections by Chinese quarantine and inspection agency AQSIQ.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20081119/us_n
m/us_china_usa_food_2

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will open three offices in China this week

November 17, 2008

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration will open three offices in China this week in an unprecedented effort to improve the safety of exports headed to America amid recurring product safety scares.

The new FDA offices, which are the first outside of the United States, will increase effectiveness in protecting for American and Chinese consumers, according to the office of U.S. Health and Human Services Secretary Mike Leavitt.

Leavitt and the agency’s Food and Drug Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach will open the first office in Beijing on Wednesday, followed by one in Guangzhou and another in Shanghai.

Associated Press

“Establishing a permanent FDA presence in China will greatly enhance the speed and effectiveness of our regulatory cooperation and our efforts to protect consumers in both countries,” Leavitt’s office said in a statement last week.

Safety issues involving the blood thinner heparin, food and other products imported from China has put pressure on the FDA to boost its international presence. In the heparin case, a Chinese-made component contained a contaminant linked to as many as 81 deaths and hundreds of allergic reactions.

In October, cribs made in China were included in a recall of 1.6 million cribs issued by New York-based Delta Enterprises.

Last year, U.S.-based Mattel Inc. recalled more than 21 million Chinese-made toys worldwide. Products including Barbie doll accessories and toy cars were pulled off shelves because of concerns about lead paint or tiny, detachable magnets that might be swallowed.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081117/ap_on_
bi_ge/as_china_us_tainted_products_8

China Recalls Product Suspected As Cause of Liver Damage

November 12, 2008

China has ordered a hemorrhoid medicine off pharmacy shelves over fears the capsules were to blame for liver problems, state media reported on Wednesday.

The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) demanded the nationwide recall of the “Zhixue” capsules made by Vital Pharmaceutical Holdings Ltd in southwest China, Xinhua news agency reported.

Twenty-one people across the country suffered “liver problems” after taking the medicine in past months, and another 14 reported other problems, Xinhua reported.

But the notice posted on the SFDA website (www.sfda.gov.cn) on Tuesday said investigators were still trying to establish whether the pills caused the illness.

“A link between the Zhixue capsules and the liver damage cannot be ruled out,” said the notice. “More research needs to be done on the mechanism of occurrence,” it said.

Chinese-made products, including medicines, have been beset by flaws and toxins that have alarmed consumers at home and abroad. The country’s milk supply was at the heart of the latest scandal, over the unlawful use of the industrial chemical melamine, blamed for the deaths of four children.

Vital Pharmaceuticals has suspended production of the pills, and retailers and consumers have been asked to return them, said the official notice.

There was no mention in the report or notice of any of the pills being exported.

(Reporting by Chris Buckley; Editing by Ken Wills from Reuters)

To Rescue the Economy: How Much Government?

November 9, 2008

What is the right amount of government intervention in the American economy?  That is the question.

China manages its economy from the halls of the Beijing communist government’s headquarters.  Yet the communist government, unable even to assure people of basic safeties like pure and untainted food, often blames other “criminals” that they themselves are unable to deter, prevent or defend against.  Even today, China wants Western nations to clean up the environmental disaster that is China today: despite the fact that China’s communists have gotten unbelievably wealthy by ignoring the environmental lessons learned in the West for decades.

Personally, the fact that China’s ground water is now polluted to a degree of about 90% doesn’t sound like an issue the West should have to deal with: the Chinese communists have allowed filth to proliferate and now they live in filth.  Corrective action is up to them.

A policeman stands gaurd amid the smog in Beijing's Tiananmen Square one month before the Olympic Games start.
Above: A policeman stands gaurd amid the smog in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square one month before the Olympic Games started this summer.  Photo: Reuters

So we know, or should know, that too much government intervention may not be a good thing.  Judging from the vast number of pages of our Tax Code and the fact that even smart accountants often have to consult “outside experts” to figure their own taxes, my faith in the U.S. government’s ability to manage the economy and my life is, let us say, tenuous…..

This brings us to the “blame game” of the American and global economic and financial meltdown.  Russia blames the U.S.  But nobody who got rich due to the lavish practices of spending and lending seems to have been taken to account.  They got rich and they got away.

It might just be me but I believe in accountability — which seems to be gone in our modern society. 

Who paid for the economic meltdown? 

Apparently: you and me.

”These two entities — Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac — are not facing any kind of financial crisis,” said Representative Barney Frank of Massachusetts, the ranking Democrat on the Financial Services Committee. ”The more people exaggerate these problems, the more pressure there is on these companies, the less we will see in terms of affordable housing.”  Barney Frank, quoted by The New York Times, said this on September 11, 2003.  Had appropriate action been taken then perhaps we woulnd’t be in this mess.

House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank listens ... 
Above: House Financial Services Committee Chairman Barney Frank listens during testimony before the committee in a hearing on ‘the Future of Financial Services Regulation,’ on Capitol Hill, October 21, 2008.(Mitch Dumke/Reuters)

Republicans generally want less regulation.  Democrats generally want more.  That is the crux of the issue, as I see it.

And there is already at least some government involvement in the U.S. economy, as Walter E. Williams points out, (see link below) thanks to the Congress, BATF, CAA, CFTC, CPSC, DEA, EEOC, EPA, FAA, FCC, FDA, FDIC, FEMA, FERC, FRB, FTC, INS, IRS, NHTSA, NIH, NLRB, OHSA, SEC, the Departments of: Health and Human Services, Housing and Urban Development, Interior, Education, Commerce, Labor, Agriculture, Transportation, other federal agenciesand etc…..

Related:
 Capitalism, fiscal woes; contempt for economic liberty

Retracing the Path Toxic Powder Took To Food in China

November 8, 2008

Xue Jianzhong never posted a sign on his ground-floor shop, but somehow everyone knew what he was selling. Customers from all over this dairy farming region in the northeastern province of Hebei flocked to Xue’s dusty street to buy special concoctions that he said would make milk more nutritious — and more marketable.

Advertised as a “protein powder,” the substance was sold in 44-pound bags and was tasteless, odorless and white, like talc. It wasn’t cheap, about $1 a pound, but it could be mixed into inferior milk or even with specially treated water and the result would be a milklike liquid that would pass government quality tests.

It wasn’t until September, when Xue was arrested in connection with the investigation into the poisoning of tens of thousands of babies across China, that it became clear his secret ingredient was a toxic industrial chemical called melamine. 

By Maureen Fan and Ariana Eunjung Cha
Washington Post Foreign Service
Saturday, November 8, 2008; Page A01

Melamine can mimic protein in nutrition tests for milk and in products such as wheat gluten and chicken feed. But when ingested in large amounts, it can cause kidney stones or death in children and animals.

A child suffering from kidney stones receives medical treatment ... 
A child suffering from kidney stones receives medical treatment at a hospital in Hefei, Anhui province in this September 19, 2008 file photo. The discovery of melamine in eggs as well as in baby formula, milk products, biscuits, chocolates and other foodstuffs containing milk derivatives confirms what experts have long suspected; that the chemical is deeply embedded in the human food chain. China is a major transgressor as carcinogenic chemicals are regularly used as food colouring agents or as preservatives, experts say.  Reuters

Read the rest:
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/07/AR2008110703562.html

China: Feedmakers Using Melamine Are “Criminals” and a “Black Nests of Gangsters” Subject to “Punishment”

November 1, 2008

In a sign that the classic communism of old Mao’s China still lives, farmers and feed merchants using melamine were labeled as “evil criminals” and a “black nests of gangsters” subject to ” severe punishment” as inspectors swooped down to find those responsible for the tainted food scandal that is now more than 18 months old…. makers deliberately added an industrial chemical to their products, ignoring a year-old government rule meant to protect China’s food supply, a government official said.

From the Associated  Press

Animal feed

Inspection teams have descended on feed makers nationwide in a “punishment” campaign to ferret out those found using excessive amounts of the chemical melamine, Agriculture Ministry official Wang Zhicai said in remarks posted on the ministry’s Web site and carried by state media Saturday.

Among the quarter of a million feed-makers and animal breeding farms inspected, inspectors found more than 500 engaged in illegal or questionable practices, with police further investigating 27 companies, Wang said. He likened the behavior of some of the companies to organized crime, calling them “black nests of gangsters.”

“Adding melamine to feed is a criminal act and must be firmly attacked,” Wang said.

A workers sorts eggs into grades after they go through ultraviolet ... 
A workers sorts eggs into grades after they go through ultraviolet disinfection scan at a major eggs production factory in suburban Beijing, China, Friday, Oct. 31, 2008. Three more Chinese brands of eggs containing melamine have been identified and a local government has acknowledged that officials knew about the contamination for a month before it was publicly disclosed.(AP Photo/Andy Wong)

His remarks were the latest by a government that is trying to appear responsive to a widening food scandal. In the nearly two months since the government first acknowledged that melamine contaminated the milk supply, the chemical has been detected in eggs, candy and other products. Its presence in feed raises fears about the safety of meat and fish.

Commonly used in plastics and fertilizers, melamine is high in nitrogen, which registers as high protein levels in routine tests of food and feed. Though experts say at low levels it does not pose a risk to human health, higher concentrations harm the kidneys.

At least four children died from drinking tainted infant formula and milk powder and tens of thousands of others were sickened. The broad array of tainted products — and the government’s delayed response — has damaged public confidence at home and raised further questions about the quality of Chinese products in crucial export markets.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20081101/ap_on_re_a
s/as_china_tainted_food_9

Related:
China Says It Will Tighten Control of Feed Industry;
After Years of Evidence of Poisoned Animal Feed

China Says It Will Tighten Control of Feed Industry; After Years of Evidence of Poisoned Animal Feed

November 1, 2008

China has pledged to tighten supervision of the animal feed industry, state media said Saturday, amid signs a toxic chemical found in milk and eggs was being mixed into livestock feed.

“The ministry will tighten its supervision of the feed industry and crack down on producers who add melamine to their products,” the China Daily quoted Wang Zhicai, head of the Agriculture Ministry’s livestock division as saying.

From AFP

Melamine, an industrial chemical normally used to make plastic, was first found to have been added to milk in China, leading to the death of four infants and sickening at least 53,000 other people.

The chemical — which can lead to severe kidney problems if ingested in large amounts — was then discovered in Chinese eggs, leading to concerns the chemical was much more prevalent in China’s food chain than initially believed.

A market in Xiamen. China has pledged to tighten supervision ... 
A market in Xiamen. China has pledged to tighten supervision of the animal feed industry, state media said Saturday, amid signs a toxic chemical found in milk and eggs was being mixed into livestock feed(AFP/File/Mark Ralston)

Wang acknowledged that the ministry issued a regulation in June last year banning the addition of melamine into livestock feed, according to a transcript of the interview on its website.

“Anyone who adds melamine into feed is acting against the law, we must resolutely combat this,” Wang said.

The ministry also introduced a “rigid” standard to test the level of melamine in feed, Wang said, following a scandal over contaminated feed exported to the United States that killed hundreds of pets there.

Despite this, experts have indicated melamine could still be being mixed into animal feed to make it appear higher in protein, and concerns are mounting that the practice is widespread.

In an editorial published on Friday, the China Daily said it was unclear whether melamine had found its way into other types of food.

Read vthe rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20081101/wl_asia_afp/
chinafoodsafety_081101060657

Poison in Feed Not A New Problem in China
.
China’s communist state media is trying to paint the poisoned animal feed problem as a dilemma just uncovered within the last 60-90 days.   Sadly, some respected Westen media including the BBC have swallowed and spread this line of lies.

 

I saw the improper mixing and use of animal feed in China years ago.  Chinese farmers were just trying to lessen the cost of feeding chickens and cattle.  And agricultural suppliers of all kinds in China work feverishly to sell “cheeper, better” feeds, insecticides and fertilizers.

Beijing’s government has little or no control over the millions of small manufacturers and farmers in the vast countryside of this rural nation of 1.3 billion people.  Until this last summer’s Olympics, Beijing had never even had food sanitation and safety standards written much less enforced for restaurants — a very basic of health taken for granted in the West.

On October 31, 2008, the BBC reported that the poison melamine was widely used in many food products in China and that “the melamine scandal began early in September.” 

Apparently the BBC took no note of the New York Times report a year ago last April (2007) that melamine was widely used in food products in China — and probably had been for years.  The Times called the use a melamine an “open secret” in China.
Here’s the report on melamine in China’s food supply from The New York Times from April 2007:
.
ZHANGQIU, China, April 28, 2007 — As American food safety regulators head to China to investigate how a chemical made from coal found its way into pet food that killed dogs and cats in the United States, workers in this heavily polluted northern city openly admit that the substance is routinely added to animal feed as a fake protein.
.
For years, producers of animal feed all over China have secretly supplemented their feed with the substance, called melamine, a cheap additive that looks like protein in tests, even though it does not provide any nutritional benefits, according to melamine scrap traders and agricultural workers here.

“Many companies buy melamine scrap to make animal feed, such as fish feed,” said Ji Denghui, general manager of the Fujian Sanming Dinghui Chemical Company, which sells melamine. “I don’t know if there’s a regulation on it. Probably not. No law or regulation says ‘don’t do it,’ so everyone’s doing it. The laws in China are like that, aren’t they? If there’s no accident, there won’t be any regulation.”

Melamine is at the center of a recall of 60 million packages of pet food, after the chemical was found in wheat gluten linked this month to the deaths of at least 16 pets in the United States.

No one knows exactly how melamine (which is not believed to be particularly toxic) became so fatal in pet food, but its presence in any form of American food is illegal.

The link to China has set off concerns among critics of the Food and Drug Administration that ingredients in pet food as well as human food, which are increasingly coming from abroad, are not being adequately screened.

Above: Ariana Lindquist for The New York Times

“They have fewer people inspecting product at the ports than ever before,” says Caroline Smith DeWaal, the director of food safety for the Center for Science in the Public Interest in Washington. “Until China gets programs in place to verify the safety of their products, they need to be inspected by U.S. inspectors. This open-door policy on food ingredients is an open invitation for an attack on the food supply, either intentional or unintentional.”

Now, with evidence mounting that the tainted wheat gluten came from China, American regulators have been granted permission to visit the region to conduct inspections of food treatment facilities.

The Food and Drug Administration has already banned imports of wheat gluten from China after it received more than 14,000 reports of pets believed to have been sickened by packaged food. And last week, the agency opened a criminal investigation in the case and searched the offices of at least one pet food supplier.

The Department of Agriculture has also stepped in. On Thursday, the agency ordered more than 6,000 hogs to be quarantined or slaughtered after some of the pet food ingredients laced with melamine were accidentally sent to hog farms in eight states, including California.

Read the rest
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/04/30/business/worldbusiness/30food.html?ex=1335672000&en=b143bd4a5d0684b6&ei=5124&partner=permalink&exprod=permalink

They must not have the Internet in London because I found the New York Times report on melamine in China’s food supply on the Internet from April 2007 in just seconds.

My Vietnamese-born wife, who has been a guest of the communist prison and torture system said, “When you want to do business with communist China’s news media, you publish what they tell you or else.”

The BBC should be ashamed.

China Widens Food Tests on Signs of New Contamination, Poison

October 31, 2008

Chinese regulators said Friday that they were widening their investigation into contaminated food amid growing signs that an industrial chemical called melamine had leached into the nation’s animal feed supplies, posing even deeper health risks to consumers after the recent tainted milk scandal.

By David Barboza
The New York Times
.
The announcement came after food safety tests earlier this week found that eggs produced in three different provinces in China were contaminated with melamine, a chemical that is blamed for causing kidney stones and renal failure in infants. The tests have led to recalls of eggs and consumer warnings.

The reports are another serious blow to China’s agriculture industry, which is already struggling to cope with its worst food safety scandal in decades after melamine tainted milk supplies sickened over 50,000 children, caused at least four deaths and led to global recalls of goods produced with Chinese dairy products earlier this fall.

 
Above: A worker placed a notice that read “No melamine contained” on egg crates at a major eggs production factory in suburban Beijing on Friday. Photo by Andy Wong, Associated Press.

The cases are fueling global concerns about contaminated Chinese food. In Hong Kong, food safety officials announced this week that they would be testing a wider variety of foods for melamine, including vegetables, flour and meat products.

But food safety experts have also asked consumers to remain calm because while melamine-tainted milk has hospitalized thousands in China, there are no known cases thus far of consumers becoming seriously ill from eating melamine-tainted eggs.

Hong Kong officials said melamine was found in higher than permissible levels in eggs imported from China, but that a child would have to eat about two dozen eggs in a single day to become ill.

Still, if eggs, milk and animal feed supplies are tainted, there is the specter of an even wider array of foods that could come under scrutiny for contamination, everything from pork and chicken supplies to bread, biscuits, eggs, cakes and seafood.

While China is not a major exporter of dairy products, it has one of the world’s fastest-growing dairy industries and it is also one of the world’s largest exporters of food and food ingredients, including meats, seafood, beverages and vitamins.

Read the rest:
http://www.nytimes.com/2008/11/01/world/asia/
01china.html?_r=1&hp&oref=slogin