February 29, 2008

Chinese Takeout - UPDATED

Hatched by Sachi

We have discussed dangerous chinese products on this blog before, and unsafe food from China has been in the news over and over. But the bad news from China just keeps on coming, with no end in sight:

  • Just a few weeks ago, frozen potstickers riddled with pesticide seriously sickened dozens of Japanese consumers, including children. Some of the children would have died, were it not for the excellent medical emergency personnel.
  • Yesterday, it was poison salt, of all things: A restaurant in south China was found to be using industrial sodium nitrate, which killed several customers and sent dozens to the hospital.
  • A seven year old boy was killed last year after eating food he purchased from a street vender; the vender ran out of regular salt... so he borrowed sodium nitrate from a nearby construction site and used it in his noodles.
  • And here in the United States, tainted Chinese-made blood thinner caused a severe allergic reaction in patients, killing four people and sickening many more.

Update March 2, 2008: The blood thinner product resulted in more deaths than previously thought:

The Food and Drug Administration said the number of deaths possibly associated with the drug, made from pig intestines, had risen to 21 from 4. But it cautioned that many of those patients were already seriously ill and that the drug might not have caused their deaths.

Pollution in China is now such a problem that entire rivers are sinking into the ground and disappearing, leaving a toxic-waste riverbed; and clearly, Chinese health and safety regulation is woefully inadequate to protect the food supply and other products. So can anybody blame the U.S. Olympic team if they decide to bring their own food to the Beijing Olympics?

The United States Olympic Committee, which will have more than 600 people in its delegation, is planning to transport its own produce because of fears about public health and food standards in China.

The athletes will eat their three daily meals at their training camp at a local university, which is outside the official confines of the Olympic Park....

Other countries are understood to be considering plans to cater their own food after a series of public health scares in China [and other countries that import Chinese food]. Chinese-made dumplings contaminated by pesticides made thousands of Japanese ill last month.

The Chinese government is said to be very "offended" by this US decision; outraged, even. Regulations by the International Olympic Committee (IOC) forbid teams bringing their own food to the Olympic village (which is why the American team is staying off-site, to avoid that regulation). This is to prevent teams sneaking in illegal performance-enhancing substances, and also to protect the profits of contracted caterers -- a very big deal in China.

However, local Chinese food itself often contains illegal performance-enhancing substances:

When a caterer working for the United States Olympic Committee went to a supermarket in China last year, he encountered a piece of chicken -- half of a breast -- that measured 14 inches. “Enough to feed a family of eight,” said Frank Puleo, a caterer from Staten Island who has traveled to China to handle food-related issues.

“We had it tested and it was so full of steroids that we never could have given it to athletes. They all would have tested positive.”

Many Japanese are afraid for their athletes' and fans' safety, and some openly say the Chinese purposely poisoned the dumplings to kill Japanese. (The factory workers knew the products were going to Japan, since the packages were all in Japanese.) Some Japanese call for boycotting the Beijing Olympic altogether.

Aside from accidental food poisoning, I cannot help but wonder about the insistance that all athletes eat food supplied by China. Might the Chinese deliberately give them tainted food to sicken them, or even purposely dope the foreign athletes, in order to make them test positive and eliminate them from the competition?

Given China's past actions at sports events (particularly against Japan), and how much irrational anti-Japanese hatred the Chinese public has demonstrated -- mobs attacking visiting Japanese businessmen, for example -- such speculation cannot be dismissed out of hand. Just the other day, during the Asia Cup soccer match between China and Japan, Chinese players kicked, tackled, and choked the Japanese players (this clip is in Japanese, but the video tells the story):



(Here's the YouTube link, if you cannot see the video here.)

The North Korean referee ignored many of these violations, issuing only a couple of yellow cards and not a single red card against China. The Chinese fans cheered and threw bottles and garbage at the Japanese team.

I cannot confirm this, but I heard on Japanese radio that the Chinese government is planning on stopping the U.S. team from bringing food into China at all; the food will be confiscated by Customs at the border.

If that happens, I honestly believe the U.S. team should turn around and go home. If China cannot (or will not) guarantee our athletes' safety, we should not participate in the event.

Hatched by Sachi on this day, February 29, 2008, at the time of 4:19 PM

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The English version of this entry can be found here. 中国からの危険な製品や食品の話はこのブログでの何回か取り上げてきたが、次から次へと危険物が入ってきて、今後もそれがおさまる気配は全くない。ここ数カ月の間で起きた事件だけを取り上げてみてもこんなにある。 中国製冷凍餃子に含まれていた殺虫剤で子供を含む何十人も日本人が中毒を起こす。死者が出なかったのも日本の救急医療施設が行き届いていたおかげで、日本の医学が中国並みだったらどれだけの人間が死んでいたか... [Read More]

Tracked on February 29, 2008 7:52 PM

» Special (Forces) Olympics from Big Lizards
The Olympic torch came to San Francisco yesterday -- and quickly departed, leaving nary a trace. The City of Brother Love wanted to avoid the violent disturbances experienced in Paris and London, as pro-Tibet protesters used the occasion to draw... [Read More]

Tracked on April 11, 2008 5:34 PM


The following hissed in response by: Fritz

I have no doubt that the Chinese government is offended with the concept of the U.S. team bringing its own food in, but they have brought it on themselves through their failure to act forcefully upon the many instances of failures of quality control within their country. My real concern in this matter is to question whether or not the slap in the face by the U.S. was intended or accidental. I hope it was intended since that seems to be the only way to get the attention of the Chinese government.

If the Chinese government does not get its act together and start cleaning up its enforcement of safety standards and so on over goods for its export market, it may no longer have an export market. As it now stands I don't think it would take much to make U.S. consumers angry enough to have them start boycotting Chinese goods. I would think it would be even easier to have such a thing happen with Japan. Now granted that is only two countries, but they are both big economies. Add in that there would likely be some countries who joined because of the publicity over it and it would soon be a stampede to boycott. Perceptions matter and at the rate China is going hers are quickly turning very negative.

The above hissed in response by: Fritz [TypeKey Profile Page] at February 29, 2008 8:36 PM

The following hissed in response by: hunter

Wow. Just, wow.
The nerve. The arrogance. The duplicitousness of their puppets. The lack of sportsmanship. The Chinese had best think this through really really carefully. They are not supermen. Their economy is not nearly as powerful as they like to think.
And if they cannot even play a friggin' game without cheating, they are clearly not ready for prime time.

The above hissed in response by: hunter [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 1, 2008 5:19 AM

The following hissed in response by: MTF

I have two friends who will each accomplish their young life's ambition, and compete in the coming Olympic Games. They're both sadly worried about their food supply while in Beijing, as well as the air pollution (they're both rowers, so air cleanliness dictates performance). Their team has told them the food situation is "handled", by which I would assume there is more than one way to import food to China than simply in the team baggage container.

The above hissed in response by: MTF [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 2, 2008 2:33 PM

The following hissed in response by: Cain

The video is no longer available. I, for one, am shocked. Shocked!

The above hissed in response by: Cain [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2008 12:54 PM

The following hissed in response by: Cain

Well I take that back. It's playing for me now. It's good to know that China can be moved to action simply from the shame of having shocked me.

(That didn't come out so good but you know what I mean.)

The above hissed in response by: Cain [TypeKey Profile Page] at March 4, 2008 12:56 PM

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