Archive for the ‘product 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

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)

China’s Unsafe Product Crackdown; An Update

January 6, 2008
By AUDRA ANG, Associated Press Writer

BEIJING – Last August, the Chinese government unleashed its most extensive campaign since the 2002-03 outbreak of SARS, the mysterious killer disease. The goal: to shore up China‘s battered reputation as a manufacturer of quality goods.

As the four-month initiative — part crackdown, part public relations drive — ended in December, experts say China has taken significant steps toward addressing product quality and safety problems. But they also note the risk of backsliding in a country with a convoluted bureaucracy and a well-documented history of local leaders ignoring edicts from the top.

“The events of the past six or so months do represent a watershed,” said Robert Kapp, a business consultant who headed the U.S. China Business Council from 1994 to 2004. “But watersheds are not always forever.”

“The problem may be very systematic by now, and I don’t know if the Chinese will overcome it,” he added.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20080106/ap_on_bi_ge/
china_battle_for_quality;_ylt=Aqfv_
cxDSxATmdDVeKZ_KQqs0NUE

More China Made Products Recalled as Toxic

November 21, 2007

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The Consumer Product Safety Commission issued another batch of lead paint-related recalls of Chinese-made children’s products on Wednesday, including metal jewelry sold by discount retailers Family Dollar Stores and Big Lots Inc, and school supplies.

About 205,000 units of recalled jewelry were sold at Family Dollar stores from January 2003 through August 2007 under the Rachel Rose and Distinctly Basics brands, CPSC said in a statement.

Also recalled were about 43,000 Sparkle City charm bracelets and tack pin sets sold at Big Lots stores from August 2005 through April 2007 for about $1, the agency said.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071121/us_nm/familydollar_recall_dc_1

Dangerous toys still in US stores, survey reveals

November 21, 2007

WASHINGTON (AFP) – US store shelves are still stacked with dangerous toys, consumer groups warned in a study published Tuesday, despite a spate of recent health scares that prompted mass recalls of items made in China.

Inspectors from the US Public Interest Research Group (PIRG) “still found trouble in toyland on store shelves this fall,” the group’s Consumer Program Director Ed Mierzwinski said in a statement presenting its annual toy safety survey.

The group found dozens of examples of toys and jewelry with high levels of lead and other poisonous chemicals, dangerously strong magnets, and parts small enough to choke a child if swallowed.

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20071121/bs_afp
/uschinatradechildrenretailtoys_071121053810

Related:
Japanese toy makers setting sights on Vietnam

Calif Suing Toy Companies Caught Using Lead

November 19, 2007

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) – California’s attorney general has field suit against 20 companies, claiming they sold toys containing “unlawful quantities of lead.”

The suit alleges that the companies — including Mattel and Toys “R” Us — knowingly exposed children to lead and failed to provide warning of the risk.

If the suit is successful, the complaint says the companies could pay a $2,500 fine for each violation.

The move follows major recalls of toys, lunch boxes, children’s jewelry and other goods during the last year by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission in Washington.

The suit also names Wal-Mart, Target, Sears, KB Toys, Costco Wholesale and others as defendants.

A Mattel spokeswoman says the company had been expecting the action, and that it has already implemented a system of checks to make sure its quality and safety standards aren’t violated again.

The toys were made in China but the suit will apparently aledge that the toy companies and toy sellers were aware or should have been aware of Chinese business practices that did not measure up to U.S. standards.

Related:
Feds urge vigilance on toy safety

China’s Effort to Resolve Food, Product Safety is Questionable

November 2, 2007

By John E. Carey
Peace and Freedom
October 2, 2007

As November dawned, China said it needed to tackle the year-long food and product safety scandals as it tackled the SARS outbreak more than four years ago. That reponse, for as many as nine months, was a total disaster.

SARS is a deadly viral infection know by its full name as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS).

Reuters filed this report on November 2, 2007, from China:

“Vice Premier Wu Yi — who is leading China’s effort to stamp out tainted, toxic and dangerous food and exports after a damaging torrent of scares — said lack of information at the village level and poor enforcement of laws were big challenges.”

She was quoted as saying:

“Looking back at the last two months of work, it can be said that progress has not been insignificant, results have been obvious — and this has not come easily.  But there are still many weak links and our task is increasingly hard.”

“Everywhere must engage in propaganda, just like that promoting patriotism, public health and family planning, pushing safety knowledge on farm product quality and safety on a grand scale.”

“Agricultural departments must arrange special budgets, as during the SARS outbreak, to print propaganda posters and illustrated booklets, putting them into the hands of every farmer, and sending them to every rural school,” she added.

Well, we ask China: “Do you think we are asleep, stupid or uncaring?”

China’s reaction to the SARS outbreak was a DISASTER.

The below essay is republished here as a reminder and a cautionary alert:

China’s Ham-Handed SARS Response
Omen in the Future of Disease Control?
By John E. Carey
The Washington Times
First Published
Sunday, May 4, 2003. Page B5

The U.S. Centers For Disease Control and Prevention now says the deadly viral infection Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is under control and abating in Singapore, Vietnam, and Toronto.

China continues to experience an increase in SARS cases.

The source of the outbreak, or at least the first place it was diagnosed: Guangdong Province, China. Guangdong is the province surrounding Hong Kong. It is the most densely packed province in China and people there tend to live right on top of their farm animals.

In Hong Kong, for example, when you go to buy a chicken, a duck, or a pig for the family dinner, you get a live animal and it comes from a cage filled with 20 or 30 other animals. You can imagine the sanitation in this situation leaves a lot to be desired.

Some doctors are now thinking the first signs of SARS developed in the farm animals and then spread to the people. Ducks are known to routinely produce strange new viral infections that don’t harm the ducks but spread with devastating affect to chickens and pigs.

The virus then mutates and spreads to humans.

China has a population of about 1.3-1.4 billion people. That’s about 22% of the world’s population.

The population of the U.S. is between 300-350 Million.

Some doctors are saying the mortality rate for SARS is 5-6%. If that is true you could have 15-21 million human deaths in America, worst case – if the disease spread out of control and prevention measures failed.

That is why we all have to be aware.

Causing fear and anxiety is not the reason we mention these numbers. The point is: SARS may be the tip of a new communicable disease iceberg in the twenty-first century. As the world becomes more crowded and mobile, our ability to quarantine a disease like SARS early enough to prevent widespread outbreaks is decreasing.

China is a particularly dangerous nation when envisioning the future of viral infections. It seems as if the Chinese were very slow to react once people started to get sick and die of SARS. It might have taken the Chinese government two months to even admit that there was a problem.

The disease spread to Beijing and Shanghai. Government officials basically fired the mayor of Beijing and his health minister for their apparent cover-up of the extent and importance of the disease.

In Chagugang town, up to 2000 villagers torched a school earmarked as a SARS quarantine center. The villagers didn’t want the SARS infected in their neighborhood.

We also learned that China lacks sufficient medications, medical staff and hospital facilities to properly service their own population.

The World Health Organization estimated that only about 4% of China’s medical professions were prepared for a disease like SARS.

SARS deaths are still on the rise in China even though they have stabilized or fallen in Singapore, Vietnam and elsewhere.

China has not had a methodical, rigid, disciplined approach to solving this problem. China produced lots of furious activity but much of it ineffective and only for show.

Big headlines boasted that all movie theaters, internet café’s, etc. were closed. But if you really wanted to look around and find an internet café open for business you could. As you enter, they wash your hands with disinfectant and give you a face mask. These are questionable prevention techniques at best.

Isolation by quarantine has proven to be the most effective prevention and control method.

My colleague in China e-mailed me from an internet café in Beijing right after every newspaper there claimed that the cafes were closed. Once you get out of Beijing – and the further you get from Beijing – the interest in SARS avoidance and precautions remains low if it exists at all.

Another problem is at play here. People who think they are sick, people who think they could have SARS in China, are reluctant to turn themselves in. They fear the government more than the disease.

My colleague in China started a trip from down near Hong Kong at the beginning of April, and traveled through Beijing and into northern China (Jilin Province). The only place SARS awareness existed was in Beijing. There was virtually no SARS awareness or prevention along this 1,300 mile trek through China except in Beijing. And the Beijing SARS prevention effort was almost entirely for show, aimed at news and cameramen, with little measurable or proven effectiveness.

The Chinese government appreciates media manipulation and SARS caused the “spin machine” to go into overdrive.

So before SARS gets too far or we discover a new deadly disease, here are a few things we need to remember about China in the twenty-first century:

*There is no effective, centrally managed organization like the Centers for Disease Control in China.

*The Chinese government has a track record of covering up bad news like the outbreak of an infectious disease.

*China is a densely populated nation with cultural and sanitation standards and methods more than a century behind that of the western world.

*Many citizens of China fear their oppressive government and have a tendency to keep problems to themselves.

*China tends to “fake” efficiency and effectiveness in a lame attempt to manipulate the media.

Before the outbreak of the next vicious, deadly disease, we need to discuss these problems with China.

China Leader Says “Handle Food and Product Safety Like We Handled SARS”

November 2, 2007

BEIJING (Reuters) – China needs a product safety promotion campaign on the scale of that rolled out to fight SARS, state media on Friday quoted the head of a national taskforce as saying, warning of huge quality problems yet to be solved.

Vice Premier Wu Yi — who is leading China’s effort to stamp out tainted, toxic and dangerous food and exports after a damaging torrent of scares — said lack of information at the village level and poor enforcement of laws were big challenges.

And just because a recent crackdown had achieved positive results, nobody should rest on their laurels, the feisty Wu added in a speech published on Friday in government mouthpiece newspaper, the People’s Daily.

“Looking back at the last two months of work, it can be said that progress has not been insignificant, results have been obvious — and this has not come easily,” she said. “But there are still many weak links and our task is increasingly hard.”

Many pigs were still being slaughtered in unhygienic, underground abattoirs as farmers could not afford to take their animals anywhere else, and in any case many farmers have no idea about food safety laws.

“Everywhere must engage in propaganda, just like that promoting patriotism, public health and family planning, pushing safety knowledge on farm product quality and safety on a grand scale,” Wu said.

“Agricultural departments must arrange special budgets, as during the SARS outbreak, to print propaganda posters and illustrated booklets, putting them into the hands of every farmer, and sending them to every rural school,” she added.

Wu, nicknamed China’s “Iron Lady” for her no-nonsense….

Read the rest:
http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20071102/wl_nm/
china_safety_dc_1