Status of Chinese People

About China and Chinese people's living condition

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  • Books to Read

    1. A China More Just, Gao Zhisheng
    2.Officially Sanctioned Crime in China, He Qinglian
    Will the Boat Sink the Water? Chen Guidi, Wu Chuntao
    Losing the New China, Ethan Gutmann
    Nine Commentaries on The Communist Party, the Epochtimes
  • Did you know

    Reporters Without Borders said in it’s 2005 special report titled “Xinhua: the world’s biggest propaganda agency”, that “Xinhua remains the voice of the sole party”, “particularly during the SARS epidemic, Xinhua has for last few months been putting out news reports embarrassing to the government, but they are designed to fool the international community, since they are not published in Chinese.”
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Archive for the ‘Tainted Products’ Category

Greenpeace Finds Toxic Chemicals NPE in Top Clothing Brands in China, including Adidas and Li Ning

Posted by Author on August 25, 2011

(Epochtimes)- Traces of toxic and hormone-disrupting chemicals have been found in clothes bearing 14 top manufacturing brands, Greenpeace said in its report released on Tuesday in the Philippines and China, where many of the clothes are made.

Nonylphenol ethoxylates (NPE) were found pervading clothing and fabric-based shoes sold internationally by brands such as Adidas, H&M, and Abercrombie & Fitch. NPE breaks down to form nonylphenol, which interrupts biological endocrine functions and harms the reproductive system.

“Scientific research has shown that NPE have direct correlation with premature puberty,” Zhang Kai, who was in charge of the investigation, told Chinese business daily Changjiang Daily. “Experiments have confirmed that these environmental hormones could induce male fish to transform into female fish.” Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Business, China, clothing, Company, Health, Life, Made in China, News, products, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on Greenpeace Finds Toxic Chemicals NPE in Top Clothing Brands in China, including Adidas and Li Ning

Chinese prison-made goods enter Canada: report

Posted by Author on January 9, 2011

An Alberta company has been importing products made at a Chinese prison camp, according to a report by the Washington, D.C.-based Laogai Research Foundation.

Canada bans the importation of any goods made by prison labour, but the foundation, which raises public awareness about the Laogai — China’s extensive system of forced-labour prison camps — indicates prison-made goods are turning up in Canada. Read the rest of this entry »

Posted in Business, Canada, China, Life, Made in China, News, products, Tainted Products, Trade, World | Comments Off on Chinese prison-made goods enter Canada: report

China: Sexual prematurity in babies- Dairy Companies Face New Questions

Posted by Author on August 12, 2010

By BRIAN SPEGELE, The Wall Street Journal, Aug. 12, 2010 –

BEIJING— Mounting questions about abnormal hormone levels in several Chinese infants who demonstrated early signs of puberty have again put a Chinese milk supplier and New Zealand dairy giant Fonterra Cooperative Group Ltd. on the defensive about their products.

The latest issue comes two years after the 2008 milk scandal, in which at least six children died and 300,000 were sickened from milk that contained dangerous levels of melamine, an industrial chemical.

The Chinese company at the center of the latest questions, Nasdaq-listed Synutra International  Inc., insists it isn’t to blame for symptoms of sexual prematurity in babies, including breast growth. On Synutra’s website, it says the company has never added illegal hormones to its milk products, and questions links between its product and the babies’ signs of puberty.

“These claims are highly irresponsible and based on speculation instead of scientific evidence,” said the company’s chairman and chief executive, Liang Zhang. “As a well-known and trusted provider of infant formula in China, we are completely confident that our products are safe and our quality levels are industry leading.”

Earlier this month, parents and doctors in central China’s Hubei province began voicing concern that milk powder from Synutra had caused at least three infant girls to exhibit signs of puberty, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported. This week, Ministry of Health officials said they were launching an investigation into the milk powder.

At a news conference on Tuesday, a spokesman for China’s Ministry of Health said multiple factors could cause sexual prematurity, and experts couldn’t yet determine whether food was a factor, Xinhua reported.

In 2008, Fonterra, one of New Zealand’s largest companies, faced a wave of criticism in the aftermath of the milk scandal. Fonterra owned a large stake in one of the companies at the center of the scandal, the now-defunct Sanlu Group, but has flourished in China following Sanlu’s closing. Synutra recalled some of its products during the melamine scare…….(more details from Wall Stret Journal)

Posted in Business, Children, China, Company, Economy, Incident, Life, Made in China, News, People, products, scandals, Social, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on China: Sexual prematurity in babies- Dairy Companies Face New Questions

Father of China’s toxic milk-powder Children victim on Trial

Posted by Author on April 3, 2010

Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch (Chinese), via The Epochtimes –

The father of one of the victims of China’s toxic milk-powder scandal has been charged with “inciting social upheaval” because he demanded medical help for his child.

Zhao Lianhai, a Beijing resident whose son developed kidney stones after consuming melamine-tainted milk powder, founded a citizen’s group called “Kidney Stone Babies” that advocates for the rights of the victims and their families. Because of his vocal public activism, he has been nicknamed “The Father of Kidney Stone Babies.”

Zhao’s proactive involvement in assisting others who were unhappy with the way the government handled their cases made him a target for investigation by the Daxing District police.

He was arrested and has been held in custody since last November. His first court appearance was on March 30.

The trial, held at the Daxing District Court in Beijing, was closed to the public. Li Xuemei, Zhao’s wife, had asked to attend but was turned down. No verdict was announced at the conclusion of the trial.

During the entire five-hour proceedings, Zhao was kept shackled at the ankles. According to Peng Jian, Zhao’s defense attorney, Zhao was also handcuffed when he was first taken into the courtroom in the morning. Only after Peng protested were the handcuffs removed; the ankle shackles remained.

Zhao pleaded not guilty to the charge of inciting social upheaval. Peng and Zhao’s other defense attorney Mr. Li Fangping told Civil Rights & Livelihood Watch that prosecutors don’t have a case as evidence was collected before Zhao was even charged. In addition, most of the prosecution’s witnesses are policemen, creating an obvious conflict of interest.

The hearing attracted wide attention among Zhao’s supporters and human rights activists. A few dozen supporters waited outside the courtroom during the trial along with several overseas media, including the Associated Press.

Police had cordoned off the area to separate the demonstrators and were using a camera and video camera to keep a record of the demonstrators.

Some supporters held signs that read, “Citizen’s Right to Life,” “Rule of Law,” and “Justice.” Some shouted, “Release Zhao Lianlai, Zhao Lianlai is innocent!”

Some demonstrators asked the police, “Do you have children? Do you have a conscience?”

Zhao’s wife and son were among the supporters, and both of them were weeping……. (more details from The Epochtimes)

Posted in Beijing, Children, China, corruption, Food, Health, Law, Life, Made in China, News, People, Politics, products, Social, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on Father of China’s toxic milk-powder Children victim on Trial

Tainted China drywall linked to deaths?

Posted by Author on March 4, 2010

Reported by: WPTV staff, Mar. 3, 2010-

WASHINGTON, DC —  Chinese drywall has surfaced again. Now there are several deaths being reported that may be linked to the toxic wallboard. Senator Bill Nelson wants answers and is demanding the feds investigate a possible connection.

There are nine deaths associated with homes that have toxic chinese drywall. The big question, did the tainted wallboard contribute to those deaths? Nelson is demanding an investigation into each case immediately.

“Common sense will tell you if silver is turning black, if AC coils are corroding and if brass is completely disintegrating, if that’s what’s is happening to the home what is it gonna do to your respiratory system>

According to Scripps Howard News Service, five deaths are linked to tainted drywall homes in Louisiana and four here in Florida. The deaths were primarily among elderly and young people with long-standing medical problems.

The Consumer Product Safety Commission maintains there is no scientific link between tainted Chinese drywall and death but it will continue to look into each case to see if drywall played a role.

Louisiana Senator David Vitter is joining the fight for his state along with Nelson putting pressure on the CPSC……. (more details from WPTV)

Posted in Business, China, Economy, Health, Law, Made in China, News, products, Tainted Products, Trade, USA, World | Comments Off on Tainted China drywall linked to deaths?

FDA Recalls Dangerous Face Paints Made In China

Posted by Author on May 13, 2009

Matthew Borghese, AHN Editor, May 13, 2009 –

Washington, D.C. (AHN) – The Shanghai Color Art Stationery Company and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) are issuing a recall for children’s face paint that may be harmful when used.

The FDA issued a recall after exposure to the product led to “rashes, itchiness, burning sensation, and swelling where the face paints were applied.” The FDA tested the paint and found “significant microbial contamination” in “most of the products.”

The products were sold by Fun Express Inc., a wholly-owned subsidiary of Oriental Trading Co. The colors effected by the recall include blue, purple, red, orange, black and green.


Posted in Business, China, East China, Economy, Health, Life, Made in China, News, products, shanghai, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on FDA Recalls Dangerous Face Paints Made In China

Food products from China destroyed in Ireland

Posted by Author on January 28, 2009

PAUL GALLAGHER, The Irish Times, January 27, 2009 –

entering Ireland from China that contain the chemical melamine are now being destroyed at Dublin Port following recent powers given to health officials and customs officers.

The new European-wide emergency control legislation was introduced following the melamine-tainted infant formula food scandal uncovered in China last September.

Milk used to manufacture a wide range of products within China had been diluted fraudulently and melamine was added to restore the apparent protein content of the milk.

Melamine was subsequently found in many food products, forcing a wave of recalls in many countries around the world. It was part of a long list of food scandals to hit China and prompted the Food Safety Authority of Ireland (FSAI) to recall Chinese-made sweet products from a number of stores within Ireland, fearing they may contain melamine.

The legislation, which came into effect last October, now requires all food imports from China that contains milk/soya at any level (which can also include chocolate and biscuits) to be detained at Dublin Port and tested. Any product found to contain melamine at a concentration greater than 2.5mg/kg is then destroyed.

Raymond Ellard, a director with the FSAI, said: “The vast majority of products have been allowed to pass through, but a small number of melamine-contaminated products have been destroyed. The testing is an on-going safety measure and as many as 160 products have been tested so far.”

Melamine can cause kidney stones, leading to kidney failure, and infants are particularly vulnerable.

“At least six babies died and more than 290,000 were made ill in China after taking milk contaminated with melamine. Composite feed products are also covered under the new rules to ensure that non-compliant food products are not diverted for animal use. The import and sale of all infant formula food from China is also prohibited.

Last Thursday, a Chinese court condemned two men to death and handed a life term to another former dairy boss for their part in the contaminated milk scandal.

It was also reported on Sunday that Chinese quarantine authorities seized more than 23 tonnes of frozen Irish pork that was found to be contaminated with dioxin and ordered it be returned.

The pork was imported by a company in the city of Suzhou in October. Inspectors sealed the pork and ordered the company to send it back. China had banned the importation of Irish pork last month following the contamination scare.

The Irish Times

Posted in China, Economy, Food, Life, Made in China, News, products, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on Food products from China destroyed in Ireland

China says 296,000 children fell ill from tainted milk

Posted by Author on January 12, 2009

AFP, Jan 11, 2008-

BEIJING (AFP) — China said Monday that a total of 296,000 children had fallen ill from consuming dairy products tainted with the industrial chemical melamine, up 2,000 from the previous official count.

The health ministry also told reporters at a briefing that a total of 52,898 babies had been treated in hospital for kidney problems caused by the toxic ingredient. Of these, 52,582 had been discharged.

The health ministry announced in early December a figure of 294,000 babies sickened by melamine, a chemical normally used to make plastic.

Earlier ministry data also showed six deaths had been linked to melamine.

The figure was released as the nation awaited the verdicts in the first cases against officials from Sanlu Group, the company at the heart of the baby formula scandal.

The discovery that melamine was mixed into baby milk, in a bid to make it look richer in protein, shocked consumers both in China and abroad, dealing another blow to the reputation of the nation’s products.


Posted in Children, China, Food, Health, Life, Made in China, News, People, products, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on China says 296,000 children fell ill from tainted milk

China cracks down on milk scandal victims

Posted by Author on January 2, 2009

By Kathrin Hille in Beijing, The Financial Times, January 2 2009 –

China moved on Friday to silence parents of victims of its tainted milk scandal, underscoring Beijing’s determination to quell unauthorised action in response to social and economic problems.

Zhao Lianhai, the organiser of a network of parents whose children fell ill after consuming baby formula tainted with the industrial chemical melamine, was detained as his group prepared to lobby the government for continued free testing and treatment for their children and other victims.

The crackdown came after the health ministry said the scandal and the business of compensation was ‘in principle over’. Last week, a court declared the bankruptcy of Sanlu, one of the dairy companies at the heart of the scandal. Sanlu’s former chief executive and some other accused officials are on trial for alleged breaches of the law.

Mr Zhao said he was being held by police at Tuanhe Farm conference centre, a compound outside of Beijing where police formerly held people who were to be sent to labour camps. “There are more than 20 police watching me here, and they are not letting me go,” Mr Zhao said when contacted by the FT on his cellphone. “I protest this illegal treatment.”

The parents’ network, which according to Mr Zhao has several thousand members, distributed its demands to the media on Friday, but 19 other parents who had come from several provinces to the capital for the occasion said they were helpless now that their organiser had been detained.

Several of the parents said that while their children had been tested for kidney diseases without charges, they had paid for part or all of the treatment themselves. “It is difficult to understand for us why [Mr] Zhao has been put away, because we are not seeking confrontation,” said Zhang Li, a mother from Fujian. “We believe in the government’s will and ability to deal with our problems, we just want to talk.”

The incident mirrors the treatment of parents whose children died in schools that collapsed during the Sichuan earthquake last year. While the government pledged to help them and improve school construction quality, it quickly cracked down on attempts by the parents to organise themselves and demand compensation or investigations into the causes of the school collapses.

The Financial Times

Posted in China, Company, Law, News, People, Politics, products, Social, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on China cracks down on milk scandal victims

In China, tainted milk trial kept under wraps

Posted by Author on January 1, 2009

By Barbara Demick, January 1, 2009 –

Reporting from Shijiazhuang, China — Inside a courthouse cordoned off by yellow tape and a phalanx of police, the alleged perpetrators of China’s tainted-milk scandal are being brought to trial here. But the sensational consumer safety case has been shrouded in so much secrecy that it is hard to say whether justice is in fact being done.

On Wednesday, the most significant defendant, Tian Wenhua, chairwoman of the now-bankrupt Sanlu Group, admitted that her company had delayed for months reporting that its infant formula contained the additive melamine, which causes kidney stones. Tainted formula killed at least six babies and sickened about 300,000 others.

China has made a big show of the trial, releasing courtroom video of the defendants being paraded before the judges in yellow-and-black prison garb. But the public has seen only snippets and images, and all but a few carefully screened journalists from government-owned news media have been excluded.

Parents and their lawyers, many of whom traveled from across the country in hopes of seeing the trial, are also personae non gratae at the well- secured courthouse here in Shijiazhuang, about 190 miles south of Beijing.

“There is no transparency in the process. They are behaving like there is something to hide,” said Teng Biao, a Beijing lawyer who has been trying to bring a lawsuit on behalf of 111 parents. “They are completely excluding the victims.”

The case is turning into a showdown between the Chinese government’s opaque legal system and a consumer culture that increasingly clamors for information and accountability.

Parents whose babies were sickened by the melamine have set up their own websites (one is called, which translates to “”) and trade text messages about the latest developments.

Although they have been barred from the courthouse, privately owned Chinese news outlets have stationed dozens of reporters behind the police lines, trying to interview people as they come and go.

“This is a case that the whole country is watching, actually all the world,” said Zhang Chen, senior editor for an online news service and one of the journalists in the scrum Tuesday.

Courts throughout China have refused to hear the parents’ lawsuits, and lawyers who have tried to file them have been threatened with disbarment, lawyer Teng said.

In its haste to wrap up the case before the end of the year — which under the traditional Chinese lunar calendar falls Jan. 25 — the government is pressing parents to accept a $160-million settlement from a consortium of dairies that was announced this week.

“It is not that I want vengeance. I don’t care about people getting the death penalty. I only want what is right for the children,” said Li Yanfang, 28, one of the mothers who was refused entry to the courthouse here.

Li complained that the government is forcing an inadequate and confusing settlement on the parents.

She was called to a municipal office here in Shijiazhuang, where she lives, and asked to sign a letter by which she would forfeit her right to further claims in return for $300 and free treatment for kidney problems until her 17-month-old daughter turns 18.

She wasn’t permitted to take the letter with her or make a photocopy, although she insisted on copying the letter by hand. When she was about to leave the municipal office, an official told her she would have to sign another letter acknowledging that she was forgoing the money.

Li refused to sign anything.

“We’re not going to sign away our rights for so little money,” said Li, who works in the insurance industry, along with her husband. “But other families in the countryside who aren’t in as good a situation as we are will feel that they need to take the money and keep quiet.”

Three babies in Li’s apartment compound have the same kidney problems as a result of drinking Sanlu’s baby formula, which was heavily marketed as a quality local brand. The company is headquartered in downtown Shijiazhuang in a huge factory with giant lettering on top of its roof reading, “Manufacture Quality Dairy Serve the People.”

Without an opportunity to hear the testimony, it is impossible to know much of what has been said at the proceedings here. For example, the daughter of Tian Wenhua, the Sanlu chairwoman, has alleged that officials in Shijiazhuang and surrounding Hebei province were part of a coverup.

“We used to receive frequent visitors from the Health Ministry. These people would eat and drink and take ‘red envelopes,’ ” Wu Qing wrote on a blog published in September, referring to the envelopes traditionally used in China to give cash. “They extorted us and didn’t inspect the product. Shouldn’t the government take responsibility?”

China’s top product quality supervisor resigned in September after the milk scandal broke, as did several Shijiazhuang officials, including the city’s Communist Party secretary. But no government officials or executives of other dairy firms implicated have been arrested in the case.

Among the 17 people who have gone on trial are other Sanlu employees and various small-town businessmen who sold melamine under the name of “protein powder” to dairy farmers. The official press has reported that some could face the death penalty.

“These criminal suspects may have committed serious crimes, but they are not the only ones,” lawyer Teng said. “The higher government officials abused their power and should be prosecuted as well.”

Los Angeles Times

Posted in Business, China, Company, Economy, Food, Health, Law, Life, News, People, Politics, products, Social, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on In China, tainted milk trial kept under wraps

Review: China in 2008– the CCP started to lose its stranglehold (2)

Posted by Author on December 29, 2008

The Diplomat, Australia, 24-Dec-2008 –

Government insider turned dissident writer Jennifer Zeng asks whether 2008 will be remembered as the year the CCP started to lose its stranglehold over China


Pollution, corruption, food adulteration

The Paralympics had barely drawn to a close when news of the poisoned milk powder broke. If the Sanlu Group had not been partly owned by New Zealand’s Fonterra and launched an investigation, thousands more babies might be dying from the results of melamine poisoning. The authorities had known there was a problem since December 2007, but it was all hushed up because of the Olympics.

Food and water contamination is a massive problem in China. Zhou Qing, award-winning author of What Kind of God – A Survey of the Current Safety of China’s Food, warned years ago that food security could ultimately spark the collapse of the CCP, and there are increasing signs that the people are less accepting of the situation. Certainly the statistics make sobering reading.

Over 40 per cent of drinking water in rural China falls short of government standards, animal feed is almost universally tainted with melamine, excessive pesticides and chemical fertilisers are used to boost yields, and harmful antibiotics are widely administered to control disease in seafood and livestock. Talcum powder is routinely added to flour and rice is chemically whitened. And yet, miraculously, the CCP is still able to ensure access to the best-quality organically grown produce for party officials.

Throughout 2008, the CCP has used the global financial crisis to reinforce the superiority of the country’s social system. In reality, though, China is far from immune. Its stock market has plunged by nearly two-thirds in the 11 months to September and the economy remains sluggish, with large numbers of factories going bankrupt as international demand for Chinese-made consumer goods slides. According to the State Planning and Development Commission, nearly 70,000 small- to medium-sized companies went out of business in the first half of 2008.

It is these factors and their associated social repercussions that most threaten the CCP’s monopoly on political power. As well as the poor and hungry, beneficiaries of Party patronage, who had grown extremely rich in previous years, are known to be unhappy that their worth has been cut by 50 per cent of late.

Meanwhile corruption, rampant throughout the financial markets, has reached epidemic levels among government officials, and people have finally had enough. In August, 28-year-old Yang Jia allegedly broke into the Zhabei Branch of Shanghai’s Bureau of Public Security, where 2700 police officers were working, and stabbed six policemen to death and wounded four more.

In any normal society, this would be horrific news. Yet 90 per cent of bloggers and Internet users in China showed sympathy and support for Yang after rumours spread that he had been badly treated by police in the past. At his second trial in October, in a display of public dissatisfaction with the regime, more than 1000 supporters gathered outside the court to support Yang. One man held a huge banner that read, The knight-errant will endure forever. Many others shouted, ‘Overthrow the fascist government! Overthrow the Chinese Communist Party! Yang Jia is a hero!’ A small group was even bold enough to wear T-shirts displaying Yang Jia’s photo. The protests were to no avail, however, as Yang was executed in November.

It is a measure of the level of anger at social injustice and the bias of the judicial system that so many people, including ‘Bird’s Nest’ Olympic Stadium designer Ai Weiwei, should publicly support a suspected cop-killer. And the prevailing mood of dissatisfaction is growing. Riots are now a daily occurrence, including in June when an attempted police cover-up over the assault and death of a teenage girl triggered large-scale violence in Guizhou Province. Up to 100,000 are reported to have participated in the riot, with 160 office buildings and 40 cars torched. (to be cont’d)

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The Diplomat

Posted in Business, China, Commentary, corruption, Economy, Environment, Made in China, News, Opinion, pollution, products, Social, Tainted Products, World | Comments Off on Review: China in 2008– the CCP started to lose its stranglehold (2)

EU bans China soy products for infants and children, industrial chemical found

Posted by Author on December 4, 2008

Reuters via The Guardian, UK, Wednesday, December 3 2008 –

BRUSSELS, Dec 3 (Reuters) – European Union regulators have banned imports of Chinese soy-based food products for infants and young children after an industrial chemical was found in Chinese soybean meal, the EU executive said on Wednesday.

The chemical, melamine, is used in pesticides and plastics. Some months ago, it was the focus of a scandal over milk products that saw several thousands of children fall ill.

Rich in nitrogen, melamine is fairly cheap and can be added to substandard or watered-down milk to fool quality checks, which often use nitrogen to measure protein levels in milk. “Competent authorities in the (EU) member states will have to test all other feed and food containing soya and soya products originating from China before allowing imports,” the European Commission said in a statement.

Only feed and food containing under 2.5 milligrams of melamine per kilogram will be allowed into EU markets. The ban is expected to come into force by the end of this week.

All Chinese consignments of baking powder, or ammonium bicarbonate, will also be tested at EU points of entry after high levels of melamine were found, the statement added.

Last year, the EU imported around 68,000 tonnes of various soy products or products containing soy for a total value of some 34 million euros ($43 million). The imports include soybeans, soybean flour and meal, soya sauce and protein concentrates as well as textured protein substances. The EU has already banned imports of milk and milk products from China, as well as all products originating from China for infants and young children that contain any proportion of milk.

Although the EU does not import milk or milk products from China, the Commission is concerned that composite food products that enter EU markets might contain, or be made from, such items — like biscuits and confectionery, especially chocolate.

EU countries are also obliged to test processed food from China that contains powdered milk.

– The Guardian: EU bans China infant food containing soy products

Posted in Business, China, Economy, Europe, Food, Health, Law, Life, Made in China, medical, News, products, Tainted Products, Trade, World | Comments Off on EU bans China soy products for infants and children, industrial chemical found

China reports huge increase in children sickened by tainted milk– 294,000

Posted by Author on December 2, 2008

AFP, Dec. 2, 2008 –

BEIJING (AFP) — China has dramatically raised the tally of children sickened by dairy products laced with the industrial chemical melamine to 294,000, more than five times the original figure.

In a late-night statement on Monday, the health ministry also said six babies may have died from consuming poisoned milk, up from a previous confirmed death toll of three.

The updated figures showed the problem over contaminated milk in China this year was much greater than the government had acknowledged for months, after it said in late September that just 53,000 babies had fallen ill.

Melamine is a chemical normally used to make plastics, but it emerged in September that it had been routinely mixed into watered-down Chinese milk and dairy products to give the impression of higher protein content.

Melamine can cause kidney stones if taken in excessive levels, and babies who were fed tainted milk powder suffered the worst because they consumed so much of the chemical.

The ministry said the 294,000 children who fell ill had suffered from urinary tract problems and that 51,900 of them had been admitted to hospital for treatment.

A total of 861 children remained in hospital, with 154 of them in a serious condition, according to the ministry.

The central government previously said three babies had died of kidney failure from consuming tainted milk powder, while a regional government also reported one death.

A health ministry spokeswoman confirmed to AFP on Tuesday that the six potential deaths included the three confirmed earlier.

The scandal became a global issue when news broke in September, with Chinese dairy products around the world recalled or banned after they were also found to be tainted with melamine……. (more details from AFP)

Posted in Children, China, Economy, Food, Health, Life, Made in China, News, People, Politics, products, Social, Tainted Products, World | 1 Comment »

French farm finds 30 times higher level melamine in China-made soymeal

Posted by Author on November 29, 2008

The Canadian Press, 28 Nov 2008 –

NANTES, France — A French farm co-operative says that it imported 270 tonnes of melamine-contaminated soymeal from China.

Melamine is an industrial chemical that has been blamed for killing at least three babies and making 50,000 others ill in China through tainted infant formula.

Christophe Courrouce, spokesman for the Terrena co-operative, says tests conducted on the soymeal imported in October found levels of melamine up to 30 times the maximum level authorized by sanitary authorities.

He says the soymeal was used to produce feed for organic poultry, but that tests on animals revealed no contamination.

Terrena has withdrawn 800 tonnes of soymeal that came into contact with the contaminated pellets and suspended all soy imports from China.

– The Canadian Press: French farm co-operative imports melamine-contaminated Chinese soymeal

Posted in Business, China, Company, Economy, Europe, Food, Health, Life, Made in China, medical, News, products, Tainted Products, Trade, World | Comments Off on French farm finds 30 times higher level melamine in China-made soymeal

Singapore finds melamine in six new biscuit products made in China

Posted by Author on November 29, 2008

By Pearl Forss, Channel News Asia, Singapore, 27 November 2008 –

SINGAPORE: Six more biscuit products have been found to be contaminated with melamine after the Agri-Food & Veterinary Authority (AVA) completed its testing of all China milk products sold in Singapore.

The six products are Baby Looney Tunes Cream Filled Biscuits Assorted Family Pack, C & OK Vigour 888 Egg & Milk, Khong Guan Mini Burger Biscuit Bulk Pack, Liluo Fruit P.D. Almond Flavour, Potter Potato Chips Pizza and Tom & Jerry Cheese Balls. This brings the total number of affected China milk products to 22.

China has implemented new control measures for milk production and AVA will be sending three officers to China in early December to ensure the measures are implemented on the ground.

Dr Chua Sin Bin, CEO, AVA, said: “Our officers will go to Inner Mongolia, Tianjin and Beijing. These are the areas where the bulk of our milk products come from. They will look at the farms, the milk collecting centre and the milk processing farm.”

Importers will be required to produce a certification of product safety from the Chinese and Malaysian authorities before milk products from these countries are allowed into Singapore.

Even certified products from Malaysia and China will continue to be subjected to a mix of random testing as well as batch testing in the months ahead to ensure that they are safe for consumption.

AVA added that the ban on Julie’s and Khong Guan biscuits from Malaysia could be lifted next week.

– The Channel News Asia: Six new biscuit products contaminated with melamine

Posted in Asia, Business, China, Company, Economy, Food, Health, Life, Made in China, News, products, Tainted Products, Trade, World | Comments Off on Singapore finds melamine in six new biscuit products made in China

New Zealand Fonterra losts all $200 million investment in China joint venture

Posted by Author on November 27, 2008

3 News, New Zealand, Wed, 26 Nov 2008 –

The Fonterra board openly concedes that it has had a difficult time and that San-Lu will going to go down in history as a bad investment for them.

When Fonterra’s top brass fronted before the country’s dairy farmers there was not a lot of good news to deliver.

Firstly, Fonterra is now admitting it has lost all of the $200 million of investment in the San-Lu joint venture.

“For this reason it is increasingly likely that we will have to write off the remaining $62 million of value in our San-Lu investment,” stated Fonterra’s Chairman Henry Van Der Heyden.

Fonterra had a 40 percent stake in San-Lu, which collapsed due to the contaminated milk-powered controversy.

Fonterra’s management says it is reviewing what went so badly wrong and concedes it had limited control.

Not only has that investment been written off, but there are warnings about the global recession. Farmers should not expect big milk payouts in the future.

“In an environment when a global recession will impact on our payout to [farmers] into the future we will continue to aggressively reduce costs,” explains Van Der Heyden.

It is a worrying signal as Fonterra is New Zealand’s biggest company and our biggest exporter.

Consequently, where Fonterra goes, so too does the New Zealand economy.

The company says it has a three year business plan and is confident of an eventual rebound.

Fonterra’s Chief Executive expects his income of just under $4 million a year will reduce and the chairman and directors have decided to turn down a proposal to increase their fees.

3 News

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China Vet Exposes Toxins in Food Supply

Posted by Author on November 24, 2008

By Xin Fei, Epoch Times Staff, Nov 23, 2008 –

Ms. Wang Haizhen, a vet from Hebei Animal Pharmaceutical Co., exposes corruption within the industry. (The Epoch Times)

Ms. Wang Haizhen, a vet from Hebei Animal Pharmaceutical Co., exposes corruption within the industry. (The Epoch Times)

Ms. Wang Haizhen, a veterinarian from the Hebei Province Animal Pharmaceutical Co, recently went public with information exposing corruption in China’s food industry.

According to her, as early as 2005, several toxic substances including melamine were detected in some animal feed, resulting in contaminated milk powder, eggs, and pork having entered the food market and harming consumers. She said after the Sanlu Company’s contaminated baby formula incident, many other companies in the area have still been using chemicals such as the known carcinogen iodized rhodium protein, which is more dangerous than melamine.

Wang’s husband was arrested a few years ago for contacting the authorities in regards to contaminated animal feed. When the Sanlu incident occurred, she made the decision to not only continue appealing for her husband’s release but also follow in his footsteps by appealing for the people.

Wrongfully Imprisoned

Gao Songlin, Wang’s husband, was a sales manager for the Feilong Company, a subsidiary of the Hebei Animal Pharmaceutical Co. In 2005, Gao discovered that certain banned substances were being used in the formulas for some animal feed the company had been producing.  Much of this feed was already distributed, which means counterfeit drugs and toxic feed additives had already entered the market and contaminated the animal husbandry in some areas. This later led to the subsequent emergence of contaminated milk powder, eggs, and pork.

Gao was shocked by all this. He made arrangements to speak with An Diajin, the head of the legal department of the company in an effort to have the toxic substances removed from the animal feed formula. Gao also reported it to the Ministry of Agriculture several times. A month after the seizure of the company, An Dianjin falsely accused Gao of embezzlement. What should have been a civil case turned into a criminal case without a criminal investigation. Gao was arrested and sentenced to four years in prison.

Wang said, “The accusations are entirely false!”

Wang remarked that authorities had long since been aware of the presence of toxic substances in animal feed and its harmful effects but did their best to keep it quiet. She said they failed to take any preventive measures, and in order to protect their own best interests, they retaliated against the whistleblower.

“When my husband said he would report it, the person from the Pharmaceutical Company said, ‘Go ahead! Many of our men are the authorities.”

Toxic Materials Still Being Used

According to Wang, Hebei is the largest manufacturing base in China. It contains several large animal pharmaceutical companies for food additives, animal feed and animal pharmaceuticals. The Feilong Animal Pharmaceutical Company is one of them.

Wang said, although the Feilong Company was closed, it quickly changed its name and went on with business. Its plant and employees never changed. Just like the Sanlu Company, it changed its name and went right on with business.

According to Wang, a lot of manufacturers are still using melamine even after the Sanlu Scandal was exposed. Besides melamine, they also add large doses of Rh proteins, Lipiodol, Clenbuterol, attractant agents, just to name a few, to get the effect of accelerating the growth rate of animals. But the chemicals and toxic materials they are adding can easily have carcinogenic effects. Some of these additives are more dangerous than melamine.

She reported that in Hebei alone, there are several hundred companies like this. Besides these, there are several thousand unregistered companies. There are many cases like these in other parts of the country.

According to Wang, people on the inside know all the dirty tricks. Therefore they are usually very careful when it comes to eating meat. Consuming meat containing these additives on a long-term basis can lead to serious health consequences. Higher cancer rates nowadays are directly associated with eating contaminated meat.

She said it’s a secret trick of the trade to avoid meat as much as possible……. (more details from The Epochtimes)

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Deaths uncounted in China’s tainted milk scandal

Posted by Author on November 18, 2008

By CHARLES HUTZLER, The Associated Press, The Washington Post, USA, Saturday, November 15, 2008-

LITI VILLAGE, China — Li Xiaokai died of kidney failure on the old wooden bed in the family farmhouse, just before dawn on a drizzly Sept. 10.

Her grandmother wrapped the 9-month-old in a wool blanket. Her father handed the body to village men for burial by a muddy creek. The doctors and family never knew why she got sick. A day later, state media reported that the type of infant formula she drank had been adulterated with an industrial chemical.

Yet the deaths of Xiaokai and at least four other babies are not included in China’s official death toll from its worst food safety scare in years. The Health Ministry’s count stands at only three deaths.

The stories of these uncounted babies suggest that China’s tainted milk scandal has exacted a higher human toll than the government has so far acknowledged. Without an official verdict on the deaths, families worry they will be unable to bring lawsuits and refused compensation.

So far, nobody is suggesting large numbers of deaths are being concealed. But so many months passed before the scandal was exposed that it’s likely more babies fell sick or died than official figures reflect.

Beijing’s apparent reluctance to admit a higher toll is reinforcing perceptions that the authoritarian government cares more about tamping down criticism than helping families. Lawyers, doctors and reporters have said privately that authorities pressured them to not play up the human cost or efforts to get compensation from the government or Sanlu, the formula maker……. (more details from The Washington Post)

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Timeline: China milk scandal (till Nov. 14, 2008)

Posted by Author on November 17, 2008

BBC News, 14 November 2008-

Dangerously high levels of the industrial chemical melamine have been found in powdered baby milk and other dairy products in China, sparking worldwide safety concerns. The BBC looks at how the saga unfolded.

10 Sept: China reveals that 14 babies fell ill in Gansu province over the previous two months. All drank the same brand of milk powder. Cases start being reported around China.

12 Sept:
Sanlu Group admits that its milk powder was contaminated with the toxic chemical melamine.

13 Sept: Production halts at Sanlu Group. Nineteen people are arrested.

15 Sept: Beijing confirms two babies have died. Vice-President of the Sanlu Group apologises to the public.

19 Sept:
Melamine is found in ordinary milk from three well-known dairies. One of the firms involved – Mengniu dairy – recalls all its products.

22 Sept: Toll of ill babies rises to 53,000, and the death toll to at least four. The head of China’s quality watchdog resigns, becoming the first national leader to step down because of the scandal.

23 Sept: Countries across Asia start to either test Chinese dairy products or pull them from shops.

26 Sept: The EU bans Chinese baby food with milk traces. Sales of the popular sweet White Rabbit are halted after tests detect melamine.

29 Sept: Cadbury recalls products in Asia after tests find traces of melamine. Reports say 22 people have been arrested in Hebei province, suspected of introducing melamine into the supply chain.

15 Oct: Nearly 6,000 infants remain in hospital across China for kidney diseases. Six are in a serious condition.

21 Oct: About 1,500 racoon dogs bred for their fur on a farm in China die of kidney failure after eating feed tainted with melamine.

23 Oct: Six more people are arrested in connection with the tainted milk scandal.

26 Oct: Hong Kong authorities discover eggs produced by Dalian Hanwei Group’s eggs contain melamine. They are pulled off the shelves.

30 Oct: Two more egg brands from Shanxi and Hubei provinces are found to contain melamine.

31 Oct: State media admit that melamine is probably being routinely added to Chinese animal feed.

2 Nov: A Chinese official insists the egg scandal is an individual case and clamps down on illegal producers of feed.

14 Nov: The US issues a nationwide “import alert” for Chinese-made food products.

BBC News, 14 November 2008

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All China Dairy Food Held Up at U.S. Border

Posted by Author on November 16, 2008

The Washington Post, Nov. 14, 2008-

The Food and Drug Administration has begun stopping imports of Chinese dairy and dairy-based products from entering the country in an effort to keep out food contaminated with the industrial chemical melamine.

Melamine is the chemical at the heart of the Chinese infant formula scandal that has killed at least two infants and sickened more than 50,000. Scraps of melamine, which is used to make plastic and fertilizer, were added to milk as a way of boosting the milk’s protein content in order to pass quality tests. The same thing was done with wheat gluten, which was then used to make pet food and sparked a wave of recalls last year after thousands of pets died.

FDA officials, who had been spot checking markets for melamine-tainted foods and recalling select products, said they expanded their import advisory in part because of intelligence from overseas counterparts.

No need to panic and throw out all the food in your house that is made with milk powder, at least not yet.

Under the hold and test policy initiated Thursday, FDA stops products at the border, then requires the importer to test it and prove it doesn’t have melamine before allowing it to be distributed

As for the rest of the food chain, when the infant formula scandal broke in China this fall, FDA sent out people to check Asian markets around the country for Chinese-made infant formula and were happy to have found none. They also checked with infant formula makers in the United States who assured them they don’t source dairy ingredients from China. Since then, FDA has continued to check markets for products that might contain melamine and some products have been recalled.

FDA officials said they are acting even though they’ve determined that the chance of adverse health effects from ingesting melamine in finished food products is low.

The kinds of foods that are being held include: cheese, soft candy, cat and dog food, and something called iodinated casein–an additive used to iboost milk-giving in cows. (What pantry is complete without it?)

You can read the full import alert here.

The Washington Post

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Retracing the Path Toxic Powder Took To Food in China

Posted by Author on November 11, 2008

By Maureen Fan and Ariana Eunjung Cha, Washington Post Foreign Service, USA, Saturday, November 8, 2008-

SHIJIAZHUANG, China — Xue Jianzhong never posted a sign on his ground-floor shop, but somehow everyone knew what he was selling. Customers from all over this dairy farming region in the northeastern province of Hebei flocked to Xue’s dusty street to buy special concoctions that he said would make milk more nutritious — and more marketable.

Advertised as a “protein powder,” the substance was sold in 44-pound bags and was tasteless, odorless and white, like talc. It wasn’t cheap, about $1 a pound, but it could be mixed into inferior milk or even with specially treated water and the result would be a milklike liquid that would pass government quality tests.

It wasn’t until September, when Xue was arrested in connection with the investigation into the poisoning of tens of thousands of babies across China, that it became clear his secret ingredient was a toxic industrial chemical called melamine.

Melamine can mimic protein in nutrition tests for milk and in products such as wheat gluten and chicken feed. But when ingested in large amounts, it can cause kidney stones or death in children and animals.

The problem is not just a domestic one. Melamine has surfaced in foods sold across Asia and, earlier, in pet food that poisoned animals in the United States, tainting China’s reputation as the world’s factory.

How the same substance that had killed pets and was officially banned in China as an additive in food just last year wound up in baby formula and so many other food products is a story of desperate farmers, complicit chemical companies, and government officials who looked the other way. All were part of a system that allowed the network of melamine dealers to thrive.

Farmers and companies involved in food and feed production said that the doctoring of their products was an open secret in the countryside but that the salesmen had told them it was harmless.

“Actually, every milk collection center bought a lot of melamine,” said Wang, a 60-year-old farmer in the village of Yudi, in the Shijiazhuang area, who would not give her full name because she feared retribution. “Everybody did this.”

China’s melamine trade is run by a criminal syndicate that has relied on chemical companies and underground laboratories for its supply. The trade has been supported by a customer base so eager for the substance that for years it turned a blind eye to its potentially deadly effects. Traditionally used in the manufacture of plastics and leather, melamine has made its way into the food supply in a way that was never supposed to happen.

Initially covered up by officials afraid of losing their jobs and besmirching the Beijing Olympic Games, the melamine contamination scandal began with infant milk formula that killed at least four infants and sickened 54,000 babies. It soon spread to candy, instant coffee, yogurt, biscuits and other products made with Chinese milk, prompting bans or recalls in 16 countries.

In recent weeks the toxin has been discovered in eggs and in animal feed, sparking fears that tainted foods go well beyond dairy products and may include fish, shrimp, beef and poultry.

“Almost all the animal feed companies I know added protein powder to their product until this September. So did our factory,” said a sales manager surnamed Li, in a branch factory of the Liuhe Group, a large animal feed company in Shandong province. “Of course, no one dares to add it now.” …… (more details from washingtonpost)

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Tainted and Fake Medicine Made In China A Big Safety Concern, FDA Unable to Fully Inspect

Posted by Author on November 9, 2008

By GARDINER HARRIS, New York Times, USA, October 31, 2008-

In the belly of an industrial district south of Lyon, France, just past a sulfurous oil refinery and a synthetic vanilla plant, sits a run-down, eight-story factory that makes aspirin, the first pharmaceutical blockbuster. The Lyon factory is the last of its kind. No other major facility in Europe or the United States makes generic aspirin anymore. The market has been taken over by low-cost Chinese producers. Even Bayer, the German company that created aspirin in the 1890s and has fought for more than a century to distinguish its product as the most trustworthy one, now has backup supplies from China.

The Lyon plant is owned by a French chemical giant named Rhodia that has been making aspirin since 1908 and still accounts for more than 25 percent of the world’s aspirin market. But now a century after its entry into the business, the company intends to quit making aspirin altogether. The plant was last renovated in 1992, and it would need an upgrade to continue operating, an investment the company can no longer justify in what has become a cutthroat business. In fact, Rhodia is closing another factory about 40 miles to the south. This one makes the painkiller acetaminophen, which is found in Tylenol. It, too, is the last such facility in Western Europe.

In some ways, this is a nonevent. European factories close; Chinese ones open. Consumers like their commodities cheap, in the case of aspirin as with everything else. China now produces about two-thirds of all aspirin and is poised to become the world’s sole global supplier in the not-too-distant future.

But are the Chinese factories safe? Who knows? The U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the European Medicines Agency and other competent government regulators rarely, if ever, inspect them. (By contrast, Rhodia’s plant was last inspected by the F.D.A. in July and is routinely inspected by one country or another.) Companies that import Chinese pharmaceutical ingredients, including aspirin, are required to test the supplies before using them, and some send private inspectors to China to ensure that suppliers use adequate controls. No pharmaceutical maker wants its name to become synonymous with disaster, and the vast majority of drugs that are consumed in the United States are safe. But some industry executives told me that price sensitivity in the generics industry makes it more difficult to fully vet their low-cost suppliers.

In China, where thousands of drug manufacturers sell products in the local markets, profit margins are razor thin, and counterfeiting and contamination are common. In 2002, the Pharmaceutical Association, a Chinese trade group, estimated that as much as 8 percent of over-the-counter drugs sold in China are counterfeit. Contaminated products extend beyond drugs, as was made tragically clear this fall when four Chinese babies died and 53,000 were sickened by melamine, a toxic chemical illegally added to watered-down baby formula to artificially increase the protein count and fool quality tests.

Though no melamine-tainted baby formula from China was found in the United States, it has shown up in other countries. This is the latest in a series of food- and drug-safety scandals. China has in recent years exported poisonous toothpaste, deadly dog food, toys made with lead paint and tainted fish. In one infamous example this spring, Chinese manufacturers substituted a cheap fake for the dried pig intestines used to make the drug heparin, which is given to dialysis and surgery patients to prevent blood clotting. As deaths among those taking the drug mounted, the F.D.A. discovered the taint and banned the contaminated drug. In the end, 81 people may have died from allergic reactions, and tens of thousands around the world were exposed to danger. F.D.A. officials admitted that the agency should never have approved the Chinese-made heparin for sale in the United States; the agency, it turned out, had never inspected the Chinese plant making it.

Concerns about Chinese drugs have become so intense that just three weeks ago, the Health and Human Services secretary, Michael O. Leavitt, announced that the F.D.A. would open an office in Beijing by the end of the year and offices in Shanghai and Guangzhou next year. The agency still plans to send inspectors to China from the U.S., but the offices will provide “an infrastructure that will make those people more effective,” Leavitt said at the time of the announcement.

China’s leap to one of the biggest suppliers of pharmaceutical ingredients in the world happened over the last decade, as the Chinese government subsidized the construction of manufacturing plants that have undercut prices everywhere. Generic drug makers in the United States, where price competition is fierce, were the first to seek cheaper drug ingredients in China. Last year, generic drug applications to the F.D.A. listed 1,154 plants providing active pharmaceutical ingredients: 43 percent of them were in China, and another 39 percent were in India. Only 13 percent were in the United States. Branded drug makers, with their fatter profit margins, resisted buying ingredients from China for years, but with their businesses now suffering, even major pharmaceutical companies like AstraZeneca, Bayer, Baxter and Pfizer have announced deals to outsource manufacturing to China.

I have been writing about the drug industry for more than a decade, but I have rarely written about a subject that both branded and generic drug makers wanted to discuss less. Nearly all of the industry executives who spoke for this article did so anonymously. Even the Generic Pharmaceutical Association, a normally loquacious trade group, was largely silent on the issue. Not one of them, it seems, wants to talk too much about the difficulty of regulating factories across several times zones, 6,000 miles and a vast linguistic and cultural divide.

The F.D.A. regulates more than $1 trillion worth of consumer goods, which amounts to about 25 cents of every consumer dollar spent in this country. This includes $466 billion in food sales, $275 billion in drugs, $60 billion in cosmetics and $18 billion in vitamin supplements. The agency is responsible for monitoring a third of all imported goods, from eggplant to eyeliner, microwave ovens to monoclonal antibodies, slaughterhouses to cellphones. But with fewer than 500 import inspectors and computer systems so old that repairmen must be called out of retirement to fix them, the agency is increasingly beset by a sense of futility.

Even the F.D.A.’s staunchest defenders now acknowledge that something is terribly wrong. Among them is Peter Barton Hutt, who served as the agency’s general counsel during the Nixon administration and is widely considered the dean of the F.D.A. bar in Washington. I’ve interviewed Hutt dozens of times over the years, and he has always defended the F.D.A. No more. “This is a fundamentally broken agency,” Hutt told me earlier this year, “and it needs to be repaired.”

The breakdown is not simply about money. This summer 1,442 people around the country were sickened by tainted tomatoes — or possibly jalepeño peppers. Such scares have become familiar, and the inability to quickly find the sources of contamination has been one of the agency’s signal failures. A 2002 law requires produce processors and distributors to keep track of where food goes and comes from, but the government has yet to mandate standardized record-keeping. As a result, in response to a scare, investigators must pour over a blizzard of contradictory packing slips and incompatible computer programs as they race to save people.

To ensure the safety of imported drugs, the F.D.A. relies almost entirely on its own inspections of foreign plants. This was not much of a problem 30 years ago, when most medical products consumed in the United States were made here and F.D.A. inspectors could drive around to plants in their district. Most of those plants have since moved abroad, and now decades can pass between inspections. Testifying before Congress in April, Dr. Janet Woodcock, director of the F.D.A.’s drug center, spoke with rare frankness about the ability of the agency to do its job abroad. “The F.D.A. of the last century is not configured to regulate this century’s globalized pharmaceutical industry,” she testified.

Other current and former F.D.A. officials I talked to echoed Woodcock’s warning. Tim Wells, who was a field investigator and then a compliance officer for 24 years at the F.D.A., now does private audits of drug plants and sees the holes in the agency’s safety net. “A company I recently visited abroad hasn’t been inspected for 10 years,” he told me.

Besides being more frequent, domestic inspections are unannounced and more intense. And when inspectors find dangerous conditions at domestic plants, they generally return promptly to ensure that those conditions get fixed. Not so in foreign plants. In a report released Oct. 22, government auditors reported that between 2002 and 2007, F.D.A. inspectors found dangerous conditions in 15 foreign plants. Only one of those plants was reinspected within two years, the auditors found. In every other case, the agency took foreign managers at their word that promised changes were made.

The record is particularly bad in China. Over the past six years, the F.D.A. has managed to inspect annually an average of just 15 of the 714 Chinese drug plants that export to the United States. At its present pace, the F.D.A. would need more than 50 years to visit all of these Chinese plants. By contrast, the F.D.A. inspects domestic drug plants every 2.7 years.

Inspectors volunteer for the grueling overseas assignments, and, it turns out, they don’t much like traveling to parts of Asia. “I went to Taiwan once, and after initially spending a night in a very nice hotel, I was transferred several hours by car to a hotel closer to the plant,” recalls DeVaughn Edwards, who worked as an F.D.A. inspector for 14 years until he left in 2006. “The bed consisted of two mattresses on the floor. There was no lock on the door. You had to hope that no one came in. It was dark; there were no amenities, no TV that worked. There was a shared restroom down the hall. It was only one night there, but it was enough to make you not want to revisit the plant or spend too much time there.”

When inspectors do go to China, their reports sometimes read like a bureaucratic rendering of Mark Twain’s “Innocents Abroad.” During a 2001 trip, for example, two F.D.A. inspectors visited a plant that was exporting acetaminophen to the United States. The plant had never been inspected. “The F.D.A. inspection team was met at the hotel in Wenzhou by representatives from Wenzhou No. 3 Pharmaceutical Factory and . . . transported by public ferry and then company vehicle to the manufacturing facility on Dong Tou Island off the coast of Wenzhou,” their report states. “There is no street address or plot number, and the address of the facility is given only by the county and province.”

Once the team arrived in what seemed like the middle of nowhere, the inspectors learned the drug was being manufactured at another plant — one that once had a similar name but had recently changed it. “In fact,” the report continues, “inspection found that there were initially three separate and independent firms operating under the names Wenzhou No. 1 Pharmaceutical Factory, Wenzhou No. 2 Pharmaceutical Factory and Wenzhou No. 3 Pharmaceutical Factory. The location of Wenzhou No. 1 Pharmaceutical Factory was also determined by the F.D.A. inspection team during the visit to Wenzhou, and it was learned that the firm is operating under a new Chinese name; however, the English translation of that name was not available.” So the two inspectors flew back to the

United States — at taxpayers’ expense — never having inspected a thing.

The F.D.A.’s apparent inability to keep names straight is no trivial matter. One reason the agency failed to inspect the Changzhou plant that produced deadly heparin, for instance, was that someone mixed up the facility’s name and concluded that the plant had already been inspected. Chinese plant names, a vestige of its once strictly controlled economy, are often very similar, and translations can vary. For instance, there are 57 separate drug master files — the basic F.D.A. record of a plant’s name, location and approved product — with “Shanghai” in the name. Some are obvious repeats, like the ones for “Shanghai No. 6 Pharmaceutical Factory” and “Shanghai Number 6 Pharmaceutical Factory.” But others could be separate plants. Or maybe not. It’s just too hard to tell.

Compounding the problem is the F.D.A.’s antiquated technology. Its computer systems are so awful that officials have no way of knowing which names, or which plants, are real. To determine which factories need to be inspected, agency investigators must consult two incompatible databases, one of which lists 3,000 foreign drug plants exporting to the United States and the other 6,800. Which number is right? Nobody really knows. Officials have told House investigators that their best guess for the number of foreign drug plants exporting to the United States is 2,967, while the Government Accountability Office recently guessed 3,249. Neither can the agency tell in many cases when the plants were last inspected (or, more important, which have never been inspected), where they are located or what products they make……. (more details from The NewYork Times: The Safety Gap)

Alarming: Tainted Food = Terrorism ?

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China detains suspect in melamine eggs case

Posted by Author on November 7, 2008

Reuters, Nov 5, 2008-

BEIJING (Reuters) – The owner of a Chinese feed factory suspected of adding melamine to its product which turned up in tainted eggs has been detained, state media said Wednesday.

Chinese products ranging from milk powder to chocolate and yoghurt have been recalled throughout the world due to contamination fears. Melamine, used in making plastic chairs among other things, is added to cheat in nutrition tests.

Four infants have died and tens of thousands fallen ill in the scandal, the latest to sully the made-in-China brand.

Chinese eggs came under the spotlight after Hong Kong food safety authorities found tainted eggs produced by Hanwei Group in the northeastern port city of Dalian in Liaoning province……. (more details from Reuters)

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