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Avoiding food products from China


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We have all seen news stories over the ears of tainted food and other products coming from China, like melamine in baby formula, pet food, toxic drywall, use of banned pesticides etc... Trader Joes has to some extent banned Chinese products from it's shelf due to the quality concerns.

Whenever possible, I do not buy foods made in China There are some items that is very hard to get around, like canned bamboo shoots and water chestnuts. But when I find an alternative, I stock up. I only buy my tea from a reputable vendor to avoid any potential problems.

I am a little paranoid in avoiding products that are made in China? What are your thoughts on this?

Dan

"Salt is born of the purest of parents: the sun and the sea." --Pythagoras.

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I stopped buying any food from China in 2008. The only thing I miss is a mushroom soy sauce I used to get, but, I console myself with the knowledge that I am now consuming less aflatoxins. I simply don't trust that the ingredients statements on the packages have any basis in reality -literally anything could be in that can or box instead of the real food.

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Ya, I hear they allow up to 75 or more insect fragments and/or up to 1 rodent hair per 50 grams of wheat flour there, too. And canned tomatoes in China can be composed of up to 12% mold. Disgusting. I'd never buy stuff like that, so I never buy things from China.

Oh, wait a minute. Those are the allowable defect levels for food processed in the United States. . .

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Ya, I hear they allow up to 75 or more insect fragments and/or up to 1 rodent hair per 50 grams of wheat flour there, too. And canned tomatoes in China can be composed of up to 12% mold. Disgusting. I'd never buy stuff like that, so I never buy things from China.

Oh, wait a minute. Those are the allowable defect levels for food processed in the United States. . .

Hey, you can't come with facts that might confuse people

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I admit to being biased with no reason.... one of my distributors started selling new shapes of tart shells - squares, rectangles, triangles.... they looked really cool. Tastewise, they were ok; not as wonderful as what I was getting but they were the only ones at the time who offered different shapes and I wanted the different shapes. I ordered a bunch, and when they arrived, I see on the label they are manufactured in China. I had a viseral reaction: I am not using these, I do not want to find out in a few months that there is a problem with the ingredients in these tart shells.

No basis whatsoever in fact, but there it is. I gave them to the caterers I share my space with. I am back buying my tart shells from a Swiss manufacturer.

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Please understand that this is an international forum and be fair with statements you are presenting.

It is a fact that many food products from China had problems, but I believe that is a very small percentage of the total scope of what they are supplying. On the other hand, based on another forum I also visit, food recalls here in the US happened practically everyday.

Keeping in mind that agriculture exports to China is one area we are running a surplus. It is not a good idea to start bad feelings based on bias.

dcarch

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Never heard of a recall in China, but then again I don't read Chinese news, so I wouldn't expect to.

I did hear they executed their food safety chief for dereliction of duty. You don't hear of the US or European countries doing that.

This is my skillet. There are many like it, but this one is mine. My skillet is my best friend. It is my life. I must master it, as I must master my life. Without me my skillet is useless. Without my skillet, I am useless. I must season my skillet well. I will. Before God I swear this creed. My skillet and myself are the makers of my meal. We are the masters of our kitchen. So be it, until there are no ingredients, but dinner. Amen.

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My opinion isn't " biased". It is based on what data I have.

Please don't wag your finger at those who disagree with you.

I am in no position to agree or disagree with anyone. It seems to me that none of us has solid data for the statments made.

I am merely pointing out that this is an international forum and there are many member from China as well, let's be fair to them.

One thing that is interesting to me, to digress, Macau, Hong Kong, Singapore, have the the longest life span. These are the areas where they practically import 100% of their food from China.

dcarch

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If one does not bother to investigate both sides of a story and only relies on one-sided reports, then yes, one is biased.

China has only relatively recently begun to allow private enterprise and as a result, industry (including food processing) has steeply increased. I'm sure like in any country in similar circumstances (such as the US in the 1800s), it is suffering from a lack of quality control, and a lack of regulations to ensure safety. It was just four years ago that China introduced a system for recall. That was in the same year as the pet food and the Mattel toy recalls, and the baby formula scandal happened the following year. I've not heard anything about food scandals since then, yet people continue to vilify China.

Yes, there are comparatively high numbers of recalls of goods from China. Certainly more so than recalls of US-made goods. But as a percentage, what percentage of goods from China are recalled compared to goods from the US? I would not be surprised at all if it were the percentages were similar. But the "news" sources tend to magnify those recalls from China. Ever wonder why? I wonder if the reasons are similar to those behind the vilification of Japanese goods in the 1970s and 80s.

Looking at food-borne diseases, however, most of the outbreaks which occurred in the US were, not surprisingly, from foods processed in the US--the e-coli tainted meat used at Jack-in-the-Box, for example. These are products which resulted in the deaths or grave illnesses of people in the US. Looking at those numbers, should we all boycott foods grown and/or processed in the US? If you're going to boycott Chinese-produced goods for the reasons being expressed here, then you really should be boycotting made-in-the-good-ol'-USA goods, as well.

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We form opinions based on the facts we know. That isn't bias.

It may be incomplete research but it isn't bigotry or bias.

What I'd like to get from those who disagree with my opinion is a few facts that would educate me. Not name calling or accusations.

Can't we be civil?

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I don't know to whom you are referring, but I have not called anyone names nor have I made any accusations. And I think I have presented at least one fact (more than one, in fact).

Regarding bias,

wiki

Bias is an inclination to present or hold a partial perspective at the expense of (possibly equally valid) alternatives.

dictionary.com

a particular tendency or inclination, especially one that prevents unprejudiced consideration of a question; prejudice.

And in what is bigotry based but ignorance? And what is ignorance but a lack of knowledge (or "incomplete research")? If once does not attempt to investigate all sides of a story, then yes, one is biased.

Fact: China created the State Food and Drug Administration in 2003, and instituted a food recall system in 2007

Fact: Since the food recall system was instituted in China, there has been one widely reported food contamination that resulted in the death of six infants and the hospitalization of several thousands of infants.

Fact: the USA instituted the Food and Drug Act in 1906 and the Food, Drug & Cosmetic Act in 1938. (can't find info regarding the recall system, but I would guess it was introduced at least a few decades ago)

Fact Fiction: Since the USA instituted its food recall system, there have been no incidents of food contamination and no deaths or hospitalizations.

No country has foolproof methods of food safety.

So I ask those of you who have decided to boycott Chinese-produced food products:

Why not boycott the foods of other countries which have had cases of product recalls? Why not boycott the foods of the USA? Or of Mexico?

Why not boycott the foods of other countries which do not have food recall systems? (China does have one, as I have mentioned, but what other countries do or don't?)

eta: just to clarify, my questions aren't rhetorical. I'm really interested in what people think and how they make their decisions regarding these types of things. Not out of a desire to argue, but because I believe it's important to listen to and understand as many sides of an argument as I can, so I can better inform my own decision-making

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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The scandals involving worthless counterfeit medications made in China that were flooding the world markets (including supposedly reputable drugstore chains in the US) in the early 2000's were very frightening. For me the final straw was learning about the pet food then dairy products made in factories where it was SOP to add melamine to the product. The factories and machinery were designed to deliver, measure, and incorporate poison into food. That's different from lax hygiene practices and other foodborne illness outbreaks. I have never seen a case of a US manufacturer deliberately formulating a food with a known poison, at least during my lifetime.

And, the most recent infant formula scandal was just one in a long series of incidents where Chinese infant formula factories deliberately poisoned consumers. One head of China's FDA left in 2005 after a series of scandals over 7 years that involved deaths from poisonous infant formula and other medications.

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Good grief. Several people express distrust of Chinese imported food ( with decent experience ) and we have to prove our motives are untainted by unfair bias?

This thread is getting too PC for me.

Bye.

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The scandals involving worthless counterfeit medications made in China that were flooding the world markets (including supposedly reputable drugstore chains in the US) in the early 2000's were very frightening. For me the final straw was learning about the pet food then dairy products made in factories where it was SOP to add melamine to the product. The factories and machinery were designed to deliver, measure, and incorporate poison into food. That's different from lax hygiene practices and other foodborne illness outbreaks. I have never seen a case of a US manufacturer deliberately formulating a food with a known poison, at least during my lifetime.

And, the most recent infant formula scandal was just one in a long series of incidents where Chinese infant formula factories deliberately poisoned consumers. One head of China's FDA left in 2005 after a series of scandals over 7 years that involved deaths from poisonous infant formula and other medications.

With the exception of the infant formula case, all of those happened prior to 2007 and the food recall system being put into place. Since the Chinese government instituted much stricter policies, there have been no widely-publicized incidents. (I use "widely-publicized" as a qualifier because there may have been problems the rest of the world just hasn't heard about).

If you're concerned about pharmaceuticals, I would also recommend staying away from GSK-produced pharmaceuticals, and also boycotting products from countries like Peru and India which are also documented centres for counterfeit pharmaceuticals.

Again, I ask, why single out one country when there are other countries in which one can find the same kind of deception or problems?

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I last worked for a company that bought bulk active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) for use in manufacturing human drugs. We brokered...bought in bulk, broke down and repacked/relabeled and sold at a higher price of course. Mostly to compounding pharmacies and large hospital purchasing groups.

We got the majority of our bulk APIs from China. The price was right. Our suppliers were *supposed* to be FDA-registered/inspected and comply with pharmaceutical GMPs.

As recently as late 2009 and 2010, we were involved in an industry-wide recall of bulk heparin because the bulk material had been intentionally adulterated with "over-sulfated" chondroitin sulfate. Chondroitin sulfate is a, known, natural contaminant in low quantites in some heparin preparations, but does not exist as a naturally occuring molecule in its hyper-sulfated form. It can only be identified as present in heparain with very costly additional QC testing done by NMR, and will not show up in the usual, Pharmacopial-recognized quality assays. None of the recognized national pharmacopeias or formularies required NMR analysis at the time (they do now).

However, when it is spiked into a production batch of heparin, it boosts the results of the assay used to determine the amount of actual heparin in the drug. The spiked material makes you think you have more heparin in the product than you do. In the recalled material, it was found in amounts varying from 2% to 60% of the total amount of the product.

In addition to not getting the proper dose of heparin (which is a very dose-dependant drug), people had pretty horrific reactions to the overdose of the hyper-sulfated chondroitin sulfate. Nearly 100 people died from the adulterated product. Many of them were premature infants.

Sorry....our food inspection system may not be nearly what it should be, but no US manufacturer of drugs would ever get away with, nor even THINK about, this type of criminal fraud. So no, I don't trust food or drug products from China. Other products may be fine, but nothing that I, or anyone, human or animal, I care about will ingest.

--Roberta--

"Let's slip out of these wet clothes, and into a dry Martini" - Robert Benchley

Pierogi's eG Foodblog

My *outside* blog, "A Pound Of Yeast"

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I think you are being xenophobic, and are more likely to be poisoned from badly prepared or badly stored US food.

Most urban US areas are a long way from the source or grower, which means a lot of US food has to be transported long distances and is not as fresh as it could be. Cold chains are not always monitored or reliable. Of course this applies to fresh food from China as well, but a blanket ban is just prejudice.

Edited by jackal10 (log)
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A blanket ban on buying products to use in my home kitchen is easier than picking or choosing what I think might be OK. Yet I still go to plenty of Chinese restaurants, send lots of people to Chinese restaurants and order in from plenty of Chinese restaurants. I recently wrote of my love for Peking Duck House.

So xenophobic, no...sorry.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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A blanket ban on buying products to use in my home kitchen is easier than picking or choosing what I think might be OK. Yet I still go to plenty of Chinese restaurants, send lots of people to Chinese restaurants and order in from plenty of Chinese restaurants. I recently wrote of my love for Peking Duck House.

So xenophobic, no...sorry.

]

So it's not ok buy a product for use in your home.

But it's OK to still consume the product outside your home.

i.e. you're not avoiding the product for safety reasons, but because. . . . ???

Just trying to wrap my head around that logic.

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So it's not ok buy a product for use in your home.

But it's OK to still consume the product outside your home.

i.e. you're not avoiding the product for safety reasons, but because. . . . ???

Just trying to wrap my head around that logic.

Yep. I've never said it was logical, just the way I roll, I guess. I pick and choose the restaurants I dine at, and what I order, fairly carefully; basically based on turnover and what I perceive to be the quality of the preparation. But I have stopped stocking my pantry with certain goods that may indeed be used at those restaurants.

Mitch Weinstein aka "weinoo"

Tasty Travails - My Blog

My eGullet FoodBog - A Tale of Two Boroughs

Was it you baby...or just a Brilliant Disguise?

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