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Avoiding food products from China


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Not too long ago, I saw ¼” reversible variable speed electric drills for sale for $5.00. I was very curious how it was possible that anyone can manufacture an electric drill, paid middlemen/dealers/shops/tax and transportation and still make a profit. I bought one just to see. Well it felt apart in about 10 uses.

I think China probably still makes cheap low quality drills to fill that segment of the market; however, it is difficult to find high quality drills that are not made in China.

Those of you who have been to China will be stunted to see the advancements in China. Already the second largest economy, she will overtake USA in the next few years. As President Obama pointed out more than once, they have the tallest buildings, longest bridges, fastest trains, most powerful super computers.

Stinky NYC Chinatown represents still the first generation Chinese immigrants into our country. The impressions you get from visiting there cannot be compared with the developments of what is happing in China. Have you seen the opening ceremony of the Olympics in Beijing? If not, you should. To compete, you must know your competitor’s real strength. Alas, many of us still think China is only good in make toxic dog foods.

Soon, I don’t think we have to worry about cheap goods from China anymore. As their economy is getting wealthier, they are consuming more. I have notice many Chinese items have doubled prices in the past couple of years. Still, razor clams in Chinese stores are about $4.50 a lb, and $9.50 a lb in Eataly.

I recently ran into a fellow who is a representative of a major steel manufacturing corporation in China. He is in NYC to organize a new business for his company, to get into food business. The company already operates 2,000 supermarkets. His assignment is to get into luxury/upscale foods, such as wine, olive oil, etc. He was in the middle of negotiating to buy up the entire supply of Kobe (Wagyu) beef here in the USA to ship to China.

Enjoy your Wagyu beef.

dcarch

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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.

If it makes sense to you, then it makes sense to you. That's really all that counts.

FWIW, I ask questions because I like to understand how other people think. Listening to other arguments can influence the way I think about things as it increases my frame of reference. That is why argument/discussion is so important, and it's a shame so many people just shut it down and don't bother learning from or listening to other people.

Thanks, Pierogi, for sharing your experience. Was it proven that the companies (just one company or more than one?) involved spiked the heparin intentionally? Or was it just gross negligence?

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I haven't purchased Chinese products of any ilk for several decades, but that has more to do with my stance on not buying anything from countries with atrocious human rights records than it does with my concerns over control and quality....

Elizabeth Campbell, baking 10,000 feet up at 1° South latitude.

My eG Food Blog (2011)My eG Foodblog (2012)

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I buy PLENTY of Chinese goods -- from Taiwan.

As far as I'm concerned, the only problem with our Chinese foreign policy is that we started recognizing the wrong government.

Taiwan is a stable lively democracy with an excellent environmental record. (I know, this wasn't always the case, especially back when Nixon normalized relations.) Just don't try to smuggle drugs into the country -- capital punishment for drug offenses. Other than that, I think it's a model for democracy in Asia.

That big neighbor to the north? Not so much. Although it IS getting better.

So, those of you who are "boycotting" China, please keep in mind that Taiwan isn't the PRC.

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Who cares how time advances? I am drinking ale today. -- Edgar Allan Poe

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So, those of you who are "boycotting" China, please keep in mind that Taiwan isn't the PRC.

Yes, I definitely buy jarred and canned stuff from Taiwan. And Japan, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Malaysia, for instance. But I have changed my stance on buying from PRC and try very hard not to.

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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When I was in Japan in October 2008 there was a scandal reported in the news outlets in Tokyo where all sorts of goods, like cookies, that were made in China with dairy products were found to have been deliberately contaminated with melamine. For the entire two weeks we were there, it was big news in Japan as they import a lot of foods from China. Their reporters mentioned that these foods had been distributed globally. But, US news outlets (at least online) didn't carry the story and I saw nothing about it in magazines or newspapers when we got back. This was, of course, after 2007 and supposedly after the food recall system was in place.

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When I was in Japan in October 2008 there was a scandal reported in the news outlets in Tokyo where all sorts of goods, like cookies, that were made in China with dairy products were found to have been deliberately contaminated with melamine. For the entire two weeks we were there, it was big news in Japan as they import a lot of foods from China. Their reporters mentioned that these foods had been distributed globally. But, US news outlets (at least online) didn't carry the story and I saw nothing about it in magazines or newspapers when we got back. This was, of course, after 2007 and supposedly after the food recall system was in place.

Actually, that report was a fallout from the formula scandal and I already mentioned that the formula scandal happened after the recall. Twice.

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.
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).

And that melamine was found in other foods with milk products was reported in the US as evidenced by this 2008 article in the New York Times. You must have missed it since you were not in the US at the time.

Of special note, from that article

While few details were available late Tuesday, agency officials said they had discovered melamine at trace levels in a single sample of infant formula. It was also discovered in several samples of dietary supplements that are made by some of the same manufacturers who make formula.

F.D.A. officials insisted that the levels of melamine were so low that they did not pose a health threat.

Though manufacturers of domestic infant formula say they do not use Chinese ingredients, the F.D.A. began sampling infant formula anyway, using more sophisticated testing than had previously been available.

Ms. Leon said the agency was testing 87 samples and had completed all but 10 of the tests. Of those, only one contained traces of melamine, she said. The F.D.A. allows anything below 250 parts per billion of melamine in infant formula, and the sample contained less than that, she said.

Ms. Leon said the other products containing trace elements of melamine were also below allowable levels. For supplements, the F.D.A. allows 2.5 parts per million, and she said all of the samples testing positive were below that figure.

The formula samples tested were produced in the US with non-Chinese ingredients. Does this make you consider boycotting all US-made products and all products from whatever country from which the ingredients were sourced, too? Especially knowing that melamine in small amounts is deemed acceptable in food products in the USA?

Edited by prasantrin (log)
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Right now, the source of the trace amounts of melamine contaminating foods is not known. The manufacturers aren't deliberately adding it. Their factories have been inspected. This is different from factories where large amounts (orders of magnitude larger) of melamine were added (via equipment installed specifically to measure it into the product) as part of processing foods so that they could appear to contain the protein levels of milk when in fact the factories were cutting the milk with 40% water. -Or routinely adding it to exported commodities like wheat gluten, animal feed, etc. to cheat consumers by not only adding a cheap, poisonous filler but also decreasing the amount of nutrition available in the commodities.

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I don't buy anything from China, it's unAmerican :wink:

Seriously though, there are food and sanitation issues here, at pretty much all levels from what you buy, where you eat etc. However, I would agree with others who say that food export standards are clearly on the up (not something the government would like to see drop). Where to draw the line is difficult, and for most people will end up being somewhat arbitrary (i.e. you won't by foods from China, but what about X?).

I would guess if you were really looking to do the safest thing in regards to food, you would be much better off prepping as much of your own food as possible, as I imagine most health problems occur when someone else does the work for you. Or having a healthy, balanced diet and lifestyle (if tainted milk doesn't kill you, a lifetime of crappy processed foods in absurdly large portions between car trips surely will).

Now that doesn't resolve the China issue at all, just adds a perspective on overall food safety issues. So I don't see this being resolved anytime soon, and to each their own. But I will say, having seen the thread about washing food in the kitchen sink, I do feel some people can be a wee bit over-cautious.

Then again, I eat Chinese street food every week, so what do I know?

Edited by ayanamidreamsequence (log)
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Interesting with so many people not buying Chinese, in addition to all the Chinese stores already there in Flushing NY, there is a new store just opened; it is a 200,000 square feet store! And it is packed. For reference, the impressive Eataly is only 50,000 square feet.

Another one equally as big is on the drawing board to be open next year in Queens, NY.

dcarch

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One of the things I've noticed in the Chinese groceries is that they tend to be much more multi-cultural now than when I first moved back to NY from California. The big Chinese markets here in Chinatown (the Manhattan version of Chinatown, anyway) carry products from all over now, and I don't think that was the case a dozen years ago.

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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  • 2 years later...

Food scandals don't only happen in China. Haven't you read about chickens in the UK this week

 

Interestingly, the food scandal this week in China only seems to be affecting western fast food restaurants such as KFC, McDonalds, Starbucks etc. So long as these mega-corps and their insatiable greed forces down prices, people are going to take short-cuts. Everywhere.

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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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Interestingly, the food scandal this week in China only seems to be affecting western fast food restaurants such as KFC, McDonalds, Starbucks etc. 

 

Possibly because the meat supplier accused is an American owned company based in Shanghai -  Shanghai Husi Food Co., which is owned by the Illinois-based OSI Group.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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Liuzhou pointed out the relevant facts of the latest food scandal in China. What may not have been emphasized is, 

which country does not have a food safety scandals , now or in recent years? 

 

The facts of this latest scandal in China are: 

 

1. it is about processed meat supplied by a US owned subsidiary (in China) of the largest or one of the largest meat processing companies in the US of A. If you want to know more, google for OSI group to realise the extent of their international reach.

 

2.the US owned company’s meat products are supplied to US owned fast food chains, etc, in China and to a lesser extent in Japan. Who is responsible for food safety control in this food production chain?  

 

3. it was a Chinese employee, whistleblower, who exposed the practice at the OSI owned meat processing plant.

 

4. the ‘victims’ are the local Chinese and Japanese, and expats/tourists that must have their US owned fast food fix in China. If you are living in the good ole US of A, you do not have to worry about this scandal, or add it on to your list of why not to buy Chinese. Those products are not supplied to the MacDonalds, and other fast food chains in the US, presumably?

 

a quick google search reveals what the OSI website claims:

 

“ OSI a world of food solutions.      OSI around the world.

The OSI global network includes 3 zone offices and over 50 manufacturing facilities that meet demanding OSI standards. So whether you are located in the Americas, Europe or Asia/Pacific, there's a zone office ready to assist you. You'll find experts in sales and marketing, engineering, research, production, finance, and international and local law that speak your language.”

 

Since there had not been any whistleblower scandals of the OSI operation in the US, one conclusion is that there are double standards, in their ‘ demanding OSI standards’: ie one for the US and one for ROW (rest of the world), or at least for China. 

 

Oh wait, if you search enough, you may find that all is not that well with OSI operations in the US.


 

and the latest news, as i can gather is that macdonalds will continue to source their supplies from OSI.

Edited by jsager01 (log)
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It's dangerous to eat, it's more dangerous to live.

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Actually, the cadmium (and arsenic, and lead, and mercury) in the rice story from 2013 was interesting because of its significant scope and effect. With 44% of tested samples from guandong being contaminated, and rice being a major export, looks like a lot of people are slowly being poisoned both in and outside of China.

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You seem determined to boycott things which probably wouldn't even reach you anyway.

 

As has been eloquently explained by jsager01, the current tainted meat scandal is more a case of the USA poisoning China rather than vice versa.

 

The rice scandal's "significant scope and effect" was one city.

 

China is the world's number one rice importer. How much Chinese rice is imported by wherever you live? Negligible amounts.

 

The milk scandal involved Europe and and especially New Zealand as much as it did China.

 

I am not in any way trying to defend the lack of safety in China's food supply chain. I have to live there. 

I'm just saying the situation is no different from anywhere else.

 

The USA actually has more reported food safety violations every year (although admittedly that may be down to a better reporting system). However, the WHO has stated that "in the USA alone, annually, there are 76 million cases of foodborne illness leading to 325,000 hospitalizations and 5,000 deaths." 

 

Almost every country has had food scandals over the years.  Food safety is a global concern.

 

But it's easier to divert attention to China. 

 

Demonising China is not only unhelpful, it's dangerous. 

Edited by liuzhou (log)
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...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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"-----I'm just saying the situation is no different from anywhere else.----"

 

There is a difference, and the difference is mathematical. When you have a country with such a huge population making so many things, statistically there will be more scandals proportionally.

 

"----Demonising China is not only unhelpful, it's dangerous. -----"

 

Dangerous in many ways, generally:

 

1. It blinds us in dealing with our (USA) shortcomings. If we are growing garlic 10 times more expensive, even we are selling locally, don't support the grower. They have no business in growing garlic. Let them get out and make something else, like iPhone, so that iPhones will not be made in China.

 

2. China can make cheap stuff, because they have no problem outsourcing to other countries. All other countries do the same. Italians import Chinese tomatoes to sell to the USA "Made in Italy" tomato paste.

 

3. Racial discrimination has costed us dearly! 

 

" 55% of Ph.D. students in engineering in the United States are foreign born (2004).[3]

  • Between 1980 and 2000, the percentage of Ph.D. scientists and engineers employed in the United States who were born abroad has increased from 24% to 37%.[3]
  • 45% of Ph.D. physicists working in the United States are foreign born (2004).[3]
  • 80% of total post-doctoral chemical and materials engineering in the United States are foreign-born (1988).[4]"

 

Brain drain is causing big economic long term problems. Many foreign borns have left the US because they don't feel welcomed here.  I have a few Chinese engineer/scientist friends  left and returned to China.

 

BTW, the penalty for making bad food in China can be death sentence.

 

dcarch

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I avoid most food products made in China (anything made in Hong Kong is fine, and even better if it is a Lee Kum Kee product) but this is partly due to ignorance.   There are food products made in the U.S. that I wouldn't touch and certainly not eat, (for instance Supermarket ground beef), because I know about the product or company, or it's been recommended by someone whose opinion I respect.   But most of what I hear about Chinese food productsin So. Jersey are the bad things.  I'm never going to see an article in the local newspaper  doing a taste test of imported vegetable dumplings from China or the top ten Chinese pickles everybody should have in their pantry,   There's an Asian Supermarket nearby, and if someone like Huiray was available to go with me while I shopped, I'd probably be able to fill a shopping cart. But, even then I wouldn't buy fish there because there's a local seafood store where I've gone there for so many years they'll even tell me what not to buy,and  I wouldn't buy meat there because I go to my local butcher, and I don't even buy his ground beef. 

Edited by Arey (log)

"A fool", he said, "would have swallowed it". Samuel Johnson

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I avoid most food products made in China (anything made in Hong Kong is fine, and even better if it is a Lee Kum Kee product) but this is partly due to ignorance. 

 

It certainly is. Although Lee Kum Kee's HQ is now in Hong Kong, the company  was founded on the Chinese mainland and most of its products are still made there. Little is made in Hong Kong.

 

You may also want to consider that Lee Kum Kee has also been implicated about their own food safety issues.

 

"In 2000-2001, Britain's Food Standards Agency (FSA) identified various brands of Chinese and South-East Asian sauces, including Lee Kum Kee products, with known carcinogens 3-MCPD and 1,3-dichloropropanol (1,3-DCP) contamination at levels hundreds of times higher than those deemed safe by the UK and European Union."

 

Apart from that, their products are usually inferior industrial imitations of the real thing.

...your dancing child with his Chinese suit.

 

The Kitchen Scale Manifesto

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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

 

 

Having lived in S'pore for 5 years, I can't  agree with that statement.  Dairy almost always comes from Australia or N.Z., with some coming from Malaysia, produce comes from Malaysia, Indonaisa, Taiwan, Thailand, and yes, some of it comes from China, meat and poultry coming from the same sources. S'poreans have the same negative reaction to mainland Chinese food products as we do, although dried foods and herbs/medicines are viewed much differently.

 

I really think we have to look at the whole picture of food production and inspection in China.  The melamine in milk powder was a classic example. Doctors knew there was poisoning, and knew it was coming from the milk powder.  They took their findings to the Gov't, they were told to shut up (with the usual threats and consequences) until after the Beijing summer Olympics were over.  Many infants died and many more still suffer from internal organ damage.  Relatively innocent companies like "White Rabbit" candies suffered immense damage.

 

For the Chinese Gov't to impliment E.U. standards on export food products is very difficult, if not downright impossible. 

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Having lived in S'pore for 5 years, I can't  agree with that statement.  Dairy almost always comes from Australia or N.Z., ----------"

 

What about Hongkong? Macao?

 

Asians consume not much dairy products because of Lactose Intolerance. Australia export only about 10% of Singapore's food supply.

 

dcarch

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