The Melamine Milk Mess – Other Foods Have Been Banned,too

With all the excitement generated from the milk scandal, many are not aware that this is the latest in a long line of food or food additives produced in mainland China that have been banned over the years. Let’s take a look at some of them:

Salted duck eggs - Sudan 1 Red was used to make the yolk appear red

1. Sudan 1 Red – this dye hit the headlines in 2005 when it was discovered to be present in preserved duck eggs, chili oil and (yikes!) Kentucky Fried Chicken, although a ban had earlier been implemented in 1996. Known to be a cancer-causing chemical, the Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ) has since assured consumers that this substance has been withdrawn following strict enforcement.

2. Counterfeit Drugs – in 2007, it was discovered that fake human albumin, a life-saving protein given in drips to critically-ill patients, had been supplied to 18 hospitals in China, giving the makers a 300% profit. BBC News reported it here.

3. Melamine again – also in 2007, melamine-containing wheat gluten and rice protein used to make pet food was blamed for the deaths of several pet cats and dogs in the USA, leading to the GAQSIQ taking more action.

4. Pesticide residue – in 2006, Greenpeace discovered that 70% of vegetables sold in two Hong Kong supermarkets were covered in illegal pesticide residue. Similarly, in January this year, several people in Japan fell ill after consuming dumplings from China which were contaminated with several toxic insecticides, including parathion. Reuters reported that the Chinese government requested for a cover-up of this incident.

5. Contaminated powdered ginger – In July 2008, it was discovered that a  supermarket chain in the United States had been selling powdered ginger produced in China, which was labeled as organic, but when tested was found to contain the banned pesticide Aldicarb.

The crisis China faces now is to regain consumers’ confidence with regards to food safety of its products. The regulatory body, GAQSIQ has no choice but to be transparent and possibly, revise some of its rules to allow foreigners to be part of the enforcement process. Meanwhile, consumer countries have no choice but to err on the side of caution by being extra-vigilant in screening China-made products…at their  tax-payers’ expense, of course.

Update(06/10/2008): SOUTH Korea has declared a rising volume of Chinese imported kimchi, or spicy fermented cabbage, to be inedible due to banned or harmful additives found in it. The Korea Food and Drug Administration told parliament it blocked 1,637 tonnes of Chinese-made kimchi due to food safety concerns last year. The kimchi shipments were found to have ‘inedible’ additives such as cancer-causing artificial sweeteners or banned colourings, the food and drug agency said.

7 responses

  1. […] kristiane wrote an interesting post today taken from Doctor2008’s blog

  2. Good heavens!
    How do we know whether those banned substances are still being added in?
    You mentioned Kentucky chicken, for instance.

    Doctor2008 says: Yes, the press in 2005 reported that Sudan Red dye was used in KFC but this has been stopped since. In 2006, there was concern that trans-fatty acids, a type of fat that accelerates clogging in the arteries, was found in cooking-oil. Last year, some concern was raised about KFC’s use of a powder,magnesium trisilicate, in used cooking oil to extend the life of this oil so that it could be re-used for up to 10 days. While this powder is approved for use by FDA and apparently used in KFC outlets worldwide, the Chinese authorities this time appeared concerned on its safety.

  3. What is the factory of Melamine? And What is the other foods that have melamine? Not only the China milk.
    Doctor2008 says: Thus far, milk products from China only are implicated; and this includes candy, biscuits, ice cream. See my other post.

  4. Firstly, my compliments to you for a informative blog. It is good that we have accurate and relevant information from an authoritative source.

    The problem with tainted Chinese goods is that we do not know what will be the next item or items to be affected. Apart from being extra vigilant in screening by the respective agencies, the consumers have to be very vigilant too. It is however very worrisome when the vendors becomes very greedy by selling lower cost chinese goods as non chinese goods. And the consumer has no way to test for the quality and origin. It really a lose-lose situation for the consumer.

    Doctor2008 says: Thanks. Agree with you about being extra-vigilant. We need to promote consumer awareness more, as the food safety agencies can only do so much. Even simple tasks like reading food labels is important..

  5. Boycott all foodstuff, even medication ( can we really trust the chinese herbal stores too?) from China until they get their act together. Also impose severe conditions and monitoring for imports of these. Seems like we cannot turn out back and they’re up to something again and again. These crooks only care about making profit. Hope the Chinese govt are really acting on this. I , and all my friends run when we hear the origin of a product is from China for quite a while now.

  6. CitizensForHealth | Reply

    The largest problem for people living in countries outside China is not the unhealthy, unsafe policies of power and greed prioritizing China.
    The problem is corporatism prioritizing legislation, regulations, policies, and enforcement levels of developed countries’ elected governments: including of the governments of Canada, the USA, and European countries.

  7. I kind of disagree, but I do see your point.

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