NEWS2U Health & Wellness
Living Healthy in an Unhealthy World

Sunday, May 20, 2007

China a top violator of US food standards:
reports AFP

China is a top violator of US food safety standards, with US authorities last month rejecting 257 Chinese food shipments -- far more than from any other country, US media reported Sunday.

The Chicago Tribune reported that at least 137 food shipments were rejected as "filthy" after testing positive for salmonella, or for containing banned ingredients.

The Washington Post reported Sunday that the US Food and Drug Administration last month seized more than 1,000 shipments of tainted dietary supplements, toxic cosmetics and counterfeit medicines from China.

The Tribune meanwhile, wrote that a good portion of the rejected Chinese shipments each month includes fish and seafood like catfish, shrimp, mahi-mahi, tilapia, eel and yellow fin tuna.

Other Chinese imports that failed inspection include herbal teas, bean curd, candy, dried apples, dried peaches and peanut milk, while non-food rejects included catheters and lip gloss.

The burgeoning food import scandal has been spotlighted because of the recent highly publicized contamination of dog and cat food from China suspected of leaving thousands of pets dead.

The pet food was found to have been tainted with the chemical melamine, a substance used in fertilizers and plastics, which found its way into wheat gluten exported from China for the US pet food and animal feed markets.

China, which exports about two billion dollars each year in food products, not only is a cheap supplier of a growing number of important food products, but for some key foodstuffs it is virtually the sole purveyor.

For instance, the Post reported that China now controls 80 percent of the world's production of ascorbic acid, for example, a valuable preservative that is ubiquitous in processed foods.

Meanwhile, the daily wrote, US companies have become so dependent on the Chinese exports that they may be reluctant to reduce the flow of goods.

"The commercial interest of the United States these days has become to allow imports to come in as quickly and smoothly as possible," Robert Cassidy, a former assistant US trade representative for China told the Post.

The daily also reported that US agriculture officials also have seized hundreds of thousands of pounds of prohibited poultry products from China and other Asian countries over the past year, including some shipped in crates labeled "dried lily flower," and "prune slices."