Tuesday, May 29, 2007

You Are What You Eat, But Not In China

It is reported today by Al Jazeera (that's right, folks, the bes' li'l ole news organization that ever prowled the back streets of the middle east on a Sheikh's expense account) and others that the former head of China's food and drug safety regulatory agency has been condemned to death for what amounted to whoring out his regulatory power to the highest bidder. The take for Zheng Xiayou was on the order of $780,000 or thereabouts.

According to sources he took bribes that enabled approval of one antibiotic that killed at least ten patients before it was removed from the market. Zheng's conduct was egregious even by China's lax standards concerning official corruption.

Apparently the stink from this person offended even the government of the PRC because it's getting in the way of business-and that's what China's all about, folks. And anyone who gets in the way of business and foreign trade is going to get run over.

Whether it will change much remains to be seen, but unless the underlying food safety issues are adequately addressed, there's likely to be still more trouble up ahead for China's food exporting business

Al Jazeera also has a few juicy items in a sidebar that bear further investigation:
  • antibiotics in imported catfish that have caused Mississippi and Alabama to ban imports
  • antibiotic and pesticide residues in shrimp and other items imported to Japan and Europe
  • turbot ( a fish) artfully doctored with malachite green, a carcinogen, exported to Hong Kong

(these can be explained by noting that the water in China that fish are grown in is more than ordinarily polluted, thus the need for antibiotics and fungicides like malachite green)

  • poisonous baby formula, saltwater passed off as rabies vaccine, and carcinogenic dyes injected to make egg yolks more colorful, all in China.

Stay tuned.

Picture credit to AlJazeera.


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