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The tainted food scandal in China worsens

For many weeks now, China has been facing a huge bad press in terms of tainted milk. For quite some time now, many manufacturers in China have been trying to make additional profit by adding melamine to milk (with the same milk being used as baby milk, and as part of milk products such as ice cream, sweets, candies, etc). This caused deaths in China, and led to a large scale removal of such products from store shelves in countries around the globe, along with a lot of outrage. China responded as it does, by blaming foreign media for hurting Chinese interests by excessive coverage, as well as by arresting a whole host of people responsible. However, it still did not answer the fundamental questions that came out it with regard to manufacturers feeling that they had the freedom to add a substance such as melamine (used in plastics, and nowhere close to anything used in food grade items) without any kind of inspection (or maybe the inspectors were all bought off).

Next, there were more damaging reports that this contamination was known earlier but was repressed by Chinese authorities to ensure that the Beijing Olympics were not disturbed (a truly diabolical choice, and possible only in a dictatorship such as China where the press cannot report on such things if the censors don’t pass it). However, this is not the end. Imagine the case where this melamine was also added to animal feed (and China exports a large amount of animal products):

Chinese regulators are widening their investigation into contaminated food amid growing signs that the toxic industrial chemical melamine has leached into the nation’s animal feed supplies, posing health risks to consumers. The announcement came after food safety tests earlier this week found that eggs produced in three different provinces in China were contaminated with melamine, which is blamed for causing kidney stones and renal failure in infants. The tests have led to recalls of eggs and consumer warnings.
The cases are fueling global concerns about Chinese food. In Hong Kong, food safety officials announced this week that they would begin testing a wider variety of foods for melamine, including vegetables, flour and meat products. On the mainland, Shanghai and other cities are moving aggressively to test a wide variety of food products for melamine, including fish and livestock feed, according to the state-run news media, which has in recent days carried multiple reports on melamine in animal feed. In the United States, worried consumers frantically e-mailed one another on Thursday and Friday about the possibility of melamine-tainted Halloween treats following a spate of news reports that some candies and chocolates made in China or with ingredients sourced in China had tested positive for high levels of melamine or been destroyed in recent weeks as a cautionary measure.

In the spate of a worldwide slow down in economies, such scandals about food can cause immense problems for China’s reputation with it getting a reputation as a place where quality can be compromised. Given that this relates to food stuffs, consumers would be even more worried, and if this relates to food stuff that children need and consume, parents would rather not take the risk. There are already news reports about large scale culling of chicken after it was discovered that eggs were contaminated with melamine.
In the past, China has already come under pressure to due to contamination / quality problems with children’s toys, pet food, seafood exports. In this particular case, a lot of the consumers are also perplexed as to what manner of manufacturer would contaminate food items with an industrial chemical, and there are increasing calls for greater restraint (in previous cases, politicians in the consuming countries have also got involved, with some bringing in the issue of Chinese products, that are contaminated, also causing the decimation of such manufacturing facilities in the respective countries).

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