Beware of Chinese Food-like Substances

Back in the day, purchasing an import meant luxury and affluence, including food; but not nowadays. Shopping for fish Saturday, cod was wild caught in Russia and processed in China, $4.99 a pound. I could have chosen (Agent) Orange Roughy from Vietnam or Gulf (Oil) Shrimp, but elected a frozen cod from New England. Food is like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna to get– unless you know your food and your farmer.

Today’s big catch? I confirmed a previous invitation to fish for bluegill at a pristine pond on an organic farm. Also today I was invited by a client to fish in a large, private sand and gravel pit where he says he catches the largest blue gill he has ever seen. Don’t think for one moment Jesus has stopped multiplying fishes and protecting us from the poisons of the day. Ask and ye shall receive.

To top it all off, today I received a note from Dr. Donald Allen, an holistic veterinarian and retired US Air Force Public Health Officer from Youngstown, Ohio. He also ran for U.S. Senate last term (he and I were on the agenda at a large Freedom Rally last year and were booted off by bigger name speakers at the last minute). His new blog is Here’s Dr. Allen on Chinese foodstuffs:

Food from China

by Donald K. Allen, MS, DVM

Last Halloween season I noticed unfamiliar bags of candy in the grocery store.  On closer inspection, I discovered they were made in China.  This concerns me primarily because of the pet food contamination crisis that we experienced in 2007.  Do you think the problem has been solved?

Contrary to what our government might tell us, our food supply is at risk, and not just from Salmonella or E. coli. According to Dr. Linda Tollefson, Director of the FDA Regional Office in Europe (and vet school classmate), only 0.6 percent of foods imported into the USA are inspected.  Less than one percent!  Now consider that 60 percent of the apple juice used in this country today comes from China.  Apple juice happens to be the main ingredient in most children’s snack drinks.  In fact, the small carton juice drink I just checked, labeled “apple juice,” now says, “Product of China.”  That would mean 100 percent of the apple juice in that box is from China.

Last year an energy food bar I purchased was recalled because it contained peanut butter that may have been contaminated with Salmonella.  This is a highly-regarded, homespun company that prides itself in quality.  They even display the “USDA Organic” emblem on their packages.  I e-mailed the company’s website and asked if they used any ingredients from China.  The reply was that they search the world for the finest quality ingredients for their products.  Reading between the lines, the answer was, “yes.”

I sent another e-mail, this time identifying myself as a veterinarian and Air Force public health officer.  I got a phone call.  The representative said that, yes, they do use some ingredients from China, but she was not able to tell me what. I replied that unless their company was “hands-on” in China, they couldn’t be sure of what they were getting.  Checking the USDA’s Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, I discovered an interesting clause, Section 2106 (d) “Small Farmer Exemption – Subsection (a)(1) shall not apply to persons who sell no more than $5,000 annually in value of agricultural products.”  Now, the average wage in China is $2,300.  So much for the label, “USDA Organic.”

Our government can only be sure of 0.6 percent of the foods imported into this country.  More and more types of foods and food ingredients allowed into the USA are originating in China.  Some are moved through other Southeast Asian countries to bypass our restrictions, but the real origin is actually China.  Frozen foods from China and Southeast Asia, especially frozen fish and seafoods, are being imported and sold in our neighborhood stores.

China-sourced food ingredients are so pervasive in our processed foods that it’s very likely the majority of processed foods contain something from that country.  The Chinese don’t even trust their own baby formula, yet we are expected to accept everything.  Processed foods include dog and cat treats as well as other regular dog and cat foods.   It’s not a bacterial contamination I worry about, but contamination with heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals we don’t use in this country and don’t necessarily test for.  I never heard of melamine until 2007, and we weren’t looking for it in the pet food supply.

Part of the current “global economy” movement in Congress is to eliminate source labeling on imported products.  That would be bad.  I’m waiting for the other shoe to fall.

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2 responses to “Beware of Chinese Food-like Substances

  1. Don, one of my past associates was in the Consumer Trade Commission and he told me at that time (15 years ago) they had only one person on import product quality/inspection. About three years ago FDA had gone and set up offices in China.

    USDA has Organic certifiers all over the world–thousands of growers too– I know– I have the entire database on my hard drive! Lots of USDA Organic labels are for foreign foods and crops.

  2. I’m equally concerned about food produced here in the good ol’ U.S. of A. Seems like most food recalls have been of American products. And as regarding labeling, the consumer here is left to assume that anything not labeled organic is derived from genetically modified product. Our government’s regulatory agencies are typically more interested in promoting the industry they work for than in doing the unique job they were supposedly tasked to do.

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