Today in Bathtub Government: Connecting the Aquadots
November 8, 2007
No budget for testing; a chairwoman seemingly under some sort of directive to refrain from asking Congress for money to hire more inspectors and testing personnel; the same chairwoman accepting gifts from the industry she's supposed to be policing and holding accountable. The only surprising thing is that worse and more widespread incidents have not occurred--certainly there's little standing in the way of this ceaseless flood of cheap and toxic imports. The problem isn't new. I've been writing about it for over nine months now, and I wasn't the first to do so, either.
Bathtub-Government Fun: Toying With Safety While A Lame Duck Leadership Circles the Drain
October 7, 2007
Six holiday shopping seasons ago, the question on many toy-buyers' minds was whether to go with the God Bless America Barbie or the United We Stand Lego Set.
Given the state of the Consumer Product Safety Commission at this point in time, however, parents will be grateful if they're able to choose (not to mention distinguish) between Regular and Unleaded.
Testing Agency Head Under Fire; Senate Committee Asks: Is it Safe?
September 13, 2007
During testimony Nord admits, disturbingly, that despite harsh criticisms of Chinese toy manufacturers and calls for crackdowns in 2004, a "significant amount" of children's jewelry the agency tested still contains lead, amending that, shortly thereafter, to "almost all of it". She also describes the testing facility as a 1950's-era missile testing site in Gaithersburg, Maryland, some of the buildings of which do not even meet code. Nord goes on to report how their lone product tester, a man named Bob, is overwhelmed (imagine that!) and can't reasonably be expected to test the countless thousands of toys and other products coming into the country every day.
FDA Scientists Grade Their Agency: 5/10=F for Failure
July 26, 2007
There is yet more kill-the-messenger posturing going on at the FDA, the federal agency staffed with dedicated, reality-based individuals--scientists--but managed by parties whose pro-small-government ideology, not to mention undeniable fealty to corporate paymasters (Big Pharma), translate to downsizing and privatizing. Both of which, as I've discussed extensively, mean even fewer inspections of food imports (currently the rate is about 1%, if that) and even more fast-tracking of drug approvals despite contraindicative study results and red flags aplenty.
Food Safety This Tuesday: Beware the Botox Chili
July 24, 2007
Vegetarians face plenty of food-contamination problems too, of course, but news like this makes me worry about my carnivorous friends and their families (emphasis mine):WASHINGTON --Millions of cans of chili sauce, corned-beef hash and beef stew produced by a Georgia food company are being recalled in the largest botulism scare involving commercially canned goods in more than 30 years.
Diminished Capacity: FDA Downsized and Privatized; America is at Risk
June 29, 2007
If the country had not spent the last seven years watching an imperial president and his water-carriers engage in one outrageous and anti-American act after another, this sort of ridiculous bag-man consortium masquerading as democracy might have raised a number of eyebrows, or perhaps even caused a stir. An actual stir! But sadly, Americans are almost at the point of no return, shock-wise; that we have in fact come to expect such constitutionally-questionable behavior from our so-called leaders reflects a disturbing level of resignation on the part of voters. And as far as Big Pharma--or for that matter, any giant commercial interest--is concerned, a resigned electorate is a docile, easily-convinced one.
Once Again, An Imported Seafood Scare
June 29, 2007
Those unsafe drugs and "chemicals" they're referring to? Some, like fluoroquinolone, are powerful, broad-spectrum antibiotics with various negative side effects (neuropathy, heart problems, and hypoglycemia, to name a few). Their use in edible goods is prohibited here, largely because certain bacteria have already developed quinolone-resistant strains (gonorrhea, for example) and mycobacterium (i.e. certain strains of tuberculosis) have, alarmingly, begun developing resistance, too.
Food Safety Issues, Toxic Toys, And A Regulatory System In Disarray
June 19, 2007
It's time for our government to declare, in no uncertain terms, that we have a serious problem with imported food and other goods coming to the United States from China. And it's time for our government to bring some real muscle (read: money) into the regulatory agencies--specifically, the FDA and the USDA--who are tasked with protecting American consumers from dangerous products. That we are currently inspecting only 1% of imports is nothing short of pathetic.
Food Safety This Wednesday: Chinese Leaders Vow To Toughen Regulations And Improve Inspection System
June 06, 2007
It remains to be seen whether the Chinese government is responding as gravely concerned leaders, forward-looking and justifiably worried businessmen, or public relations pros throwing down the expected comfort words, muffling fires (or attempting to) before they rage out of control. Perhaps they're acting in all three capacities--judge for yourself.
Import Alert: Put Down That
June 02, 2007
Antifreeze in toothpaste? For the love of all that is sane, FDA, put a stop to all Chinese food and drug imports until such time as that nation's officials can demonstrate, provably, that they take health and safety standards seriously--at least as seriously as American families, if not American regulatory agencies, are taking all this.
Food Safety This Friday: Imported Monkfish That Are Really Puffer Fish Predictably Contain Deadly Neurotoxin
May 25, 2007
Americans want and need accurate information about the contents and origins of our food. If a country has an official and recorded history of shipping poisoned, mislabeled, adulterated, rotten, or otherwise toxic food into the United States, American consumers deserve the right to decide if they're willing to take the risk, the right to make their concerns known at the grocery store, and the right to hold accountable those who would and do harm us, whether intentionally or as a consequence of institutionalized, profit-driven malfeasance.
Food Safety Briefing: Restrictions on Imported Food Urged; Trade Ambassador Pressured; A Florida Family Reels; From Whence Cometh Garlic?
May 23, 2007
I'm glad another Senator has added his voice to the small-but-growing chorus of criticisms surrounding the regulatory agency (the FDA) that by its own admission inspects only 1% (or "less than 2%", depending on who's talking) of all imports; I'm especially heartened to hear Bayh point out the melamine elephant in the room--that is, how unnervingly vulnerable we are--and even utter the phrase "...potentially poisonous agents [that may be] intentionally delivered to American citizens”
It's Time For America To Legislate Mandatory Country Of Origin Labels
May 20, 2007
It's a matter of
greedeconomics more than anything else--they're afraid that if American consumers find out how many of their purchases contain ingredients from countries with spotty safety records, many if not most of us will start getting uppity, refusing to buy products and foodstuffs that are packed with cheap and potentially dangerous fillers and chemicals, and take our dollars elsewhere, spending them on products that offer what we want, without the rubbish we don't want.
Chinese Government: Says Don't Worry, Eat Happy, Keep Importing And Bans Litbrit
May 16, 2007
The government of the People's Republic of China--the same folks who have blocked their citizens' access to my blog, as well as Shakesville, HorsesAss, and an enormous number of American websites--claim they have conducted their investigations and found that the practice of melamine-adulteration was limited to a couple of individual companies.
UAE: No Melamine In Food, Please, And No Food On Melamine, Either
May 14, 2007
Health officials in the UAE (United Arab Emirates) are issuing a novel melamine warning to their citizens today: Don't eat or drink from it.
China And The USDA: If You Liked Our Chemical-laced Crunchy Grains, You'll Love Our Putrid Plump Poulty!
May 12, 2007
All an unscrupulous chicken exporter would need to do is set up some company and give it a nice, science-y name like, oh, Acme Biologic Technology, let's say. Then, he could purchase some industrial, lab-like building--maybe an abandoned processing plant that hasn't yet been bulldozed to destroy evidence--fill it with stainless-steel tables and inspection equipment, and use it to "certify" the Chinese poultry as safe. Until the USDA's attention wanders, and like the chicken waste that drips into many Chinese shrimp ponds, the inspection process devolves into a foul, dangerous mess.
Food Adulteration Update: Chinese Grain Producer Demolished Own Plant And Fled Before Arrest; Website Pulled Down
May 11, 2007
Chinese officials caught Mao; after weeks of denials, he admitted that his company and another Chinese business had deliberately and illegally added melamine to exported wheat and rice products. I don't even want to speculate how Mr. Mao's, ah, confessin' state of mind overcame the greater devils that had him making his fortune shoveling melamine into food meant for American (and reportedly Chinese) animals and humans and then destroying the evidence. I'm sure it wasn't pretty.
Blogger At Forefront Of Food Adulteration Story Gets Banned In China
May 11, 2007
Yesterday, Goldy discovered he'd been banned in that country, or rather, that access to his online writings had been blocked to any readers and interested parties residing in the People's Republic.
Food Adulteration Update: Farmed Fish Given Tainted Meal; China Cracks Down; Ordinary Flour (With Melamine) Labeled As Gluten
May 09, 2007
So far, officials and scientists have found illegal antibiotics in Chinese catfish (the importation of which was banned in Mississippi on Tuesday); diethylene glycol (antifreeze) in cough and cold medicines; and melamine and cyanuric acid in wheat gluten and rice protein, as well as in the bodies of the animals consuming it: cats, dogs, pigs, chicken, and now, fish.
Adulterated And Counterfeit Chinese Ingredients Sicken And Kill Thousands
May 06, 2007
Terrorism attacked us on our own soil in 2001, but human greed would appear to be going one step further, attacking us within our own bodies. Poisoning our food and our medicine; poisoning adults and children and animals--around the world, and here at home. Poisoning us.
Food Adulteration Update: FDA Examines Human Food; Damning Paperwork Points To Linked Chinese Suppiers; Manager Arrested
May 04, 2007
The FDA said Thursday it would begin visiting hundreds of food manufacturers who use protein concentrates--presumably grain glutens and rice protein--and begin inspections in order to rule out contamination of "other products".
Senator Dick Durbin (D-IL) On The Pet Food Recall, The FDA And Food Safety
May 1, 2007
At hearings today, Senator Durbin speaks out on behalf of all who eat. (With YouTube clip.)
FDA Widens Import Alert (To Put It Mildly), Concedes That Animal Fatalities Number In The Thousands
May 1, 2007
Expect even those high numbers to continue to rise. What's more, we'll soon be seeing the recall of an undetermined number of food products meant for humans; when that happens, the uproar will be deafening.
Melamine Update: Fed To Poultry, Much Already "Processed" (Sold And Consumed)
April 30, 2007
The FDA are uncertain how many tainted-feed-consuming chickens were involved, and they don't have a clue how many melamine Kievs and cyanuric acid stir-fries have already been served to unwitting Americans. They don't even know where the tainted poultry went (which unfortunately means that Melissa, Iain, and other Hoosiers aren't the only ones who should be concerned).
Melamine A Hot Commodity, Which Means This
April 30, 2007
We who live and dine in America might as well get used to the idea that we've probably already consumed an unidentified amount of melamine and, what's more, that we may have been doing so for as long as sixteen years.
Food Tainting Update: Melamine Spiking A Common Practice in China
April 30, 2007
This weekend, however, New York Times writer David Barboza, reporting from Zhangqiu, found numerous grain and food-processing workers and management willing to talk about what must seem like old news to them--namely, that adding melamine to grain products in order to boost protein-content readings (and market price) is a common practice in China.
Pet And Human Food-Tainting Update: FDA Raids ChemNutra's Office; China Admits Problem For First Time; Menu Foods To Sue ChemNutra
April 27, 2007
Two days after tainted wheat-gluten importer Stephen S. Miller (CEO, ChemNutra) testified before a Congressional committee looking into food safety issues, the FDA raided ChemNutra's Las Vegas offices.
FDA To Test Food Glutens, Proteins For Melamine
April 24, 200
We believe the safety net is in place.
Forgive me, Mr. Elder, sir, but I believe otherwise. And I think all the evidence falls fairly squarely in the court of Otherwise, too.
Update: California Senate Passes Label Requirement Bill For Cloned Food; FDA Still Accepting Comments
April 24, 200
Did I even need to paste in that last bit--with Democrats supporting the legislation and Republicans opposing it--or have we finally reached a point where it's pretty much assumed that the Dems will usually side with America's citizens while the GOP can always be counted on to stand behind (or rather, bend over in front of) its corporations.
House Begins Hearings On Food Safety; CSPI Calls For Import Ban
April 24, 2007
The House Energy and Commerce subcommittee begins hearings today to determine what can be done to protect the nation's food supply, while FDA officials admit food ingredients (as opposed to whole products) have received very little scrutiny.
Melamine Found In California Pork; FDA Launches Criminal Investigation
April 21, 2007
It was only a matter of time before this happened: melamine has been detected in the feed and body fluids of pigs meant for human consumption, and California authorities have issued both a quarantine and an advisory to not consume pork from at least one farm; others may follow, since the tainted feed was also shipped to New York.
Pet Food Poisoning: Now In Three Protein Ingredients
Thursday, April 19, 2007
Officials have found melamine in not one, not two, but three grain proteins--wheat gluten, corn gluten, and rice protein concentrate--exported by China. What's more, investigators at the FDA now admit the possibility that the spiking was intentional--apparently, the nitrogen content in melamine, used as a fertilizer in Asia, boosts the readings in protein testing. A higher protein content, as you'd imagine, translates to higher per-pound revenue.
Pet Food Poisoning: The Gluten Thickens
Tuesday, April 10, 2007
I learned, via a great Op-ed piece in the San Francisco Chronicle/SFGate, that buried deep within the FDA site, there is an Import Alert issued on April 4th against a Chinese company called Xuzhou Anying. Read the FDA order. It mandates "Detention Without Physical Examination" of wheat gluten and wheat flour gluten due to the presence of "poisonous or deleterious substance". Further down the page, the alert states the charges:The article is subject to refusal of admission pursuant to section 801(a)(3)in that it appears to bear or contain a poisonous or deleterious substance, which may render it injurious to health [Adulteration, section 402(a)(1)](Oasis Charge Code; POISONOUS)
Meat Or Its Match: Consumers Want And Deserve Labels
April 02, 2007
If there is nothing untoward here, if the biotech industry is so convinced that several more years of research will confirm that there is really is nothing to see--that there is nothing unusual about the contents of FrankenCow's flesh and cellular biology that would distinguish it from a "conventionally bred cow", then why is the industry afraid of a simple label?
March 13, 2007
You don't have to be a vegan to understand why such mendacity is wrong--people in the West don't eat dogs and cats, we befriend them. I'd be willing to bet most beef-eating Americans at baseball games this summer would not want to learn that the term hot dog had been interpreted literally, and that what they were about to devour was actually a footlong serving of ground Fido.
I don't see that the issue with the animals' fur is any different, ethically. It's not about vegetarianism, about whether or not you support using animals' bodies to make commercial products. It's about truth in labeling.
It is at least about that.