Wednesday 24 May 2017

Food Contamination in China

A new post from the WSJ discusses new crack downs in tainted food out of China. The post discusses “Ink, dye, bleach, wax and toxic chemicals: These are just a few of the substances that have been found recently in food products in China, reigniting fears over food safety despite repeated government pledges to crack down on tainted eats.”

Ink, dye, bleach and wax! Sounds far fetched and something that would never happen in the US, right? It wasn’t that long ago a similar headline could be found in the US.

The US’s experiment with food regulation grew out of the industrial revolution. It was then that food left the farm for the processing plant. Absent any regulations manufacturers were free to add whatever they liked to their products. Not only could they add whatever they liked, no labeling law required them to report it on the product’s label. Horrible stories came to light of lead salts being added to candies and cheeses, textile inks used as coloring agents and other additives unthinkable today. The conditions lead to an outcry for change not only at home, but also from France and Britain who called for pure food imports.

China in terms of development is where the US was in the 19th Century. China is under increased pressure to produce quickly and cheaply. This leads to the widespread economic adulteration seen today. The difference between China and US is less a function of time and more to do with the intense scrutiny of the media and consumers today. There is little tolerance for textile inks and bleach in the global market place. China is playing the same game of development as the US, but on a global scale with a much savvier consumer.

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2 comments

  • Mitravinda Sripada | May 23, 2011 at 7:12 am | Reply

    More than Intentional adulteration, the other type of adulteration i.e. unintentional or incidental adulteration is very harmful as this occurs due to contamination of micro-organisms.
    Different food articles that are subjected to adulteration are spices, condiments, pulses, cereals, milk, and milk products, bakery products, common salt, seeds, edible oils, food grains, ice creams, sherbath, and beverages like soft drinks, wine, whisky, brandy, beer etc. Raw food products such as meat, fish, milk, vegetables grown on sewage are likely to be contaminated with harmful micro-organisms which cause food borne diseases. The micro-organisms which cause food borne diseases are Bacteria, fungi, parasites. Even metals and toxic chemicals like Arsenic, lead, Cadmium, cobalt, copper, may contaminate the food. The bacterial contamination may result in nausea, vomiting, Botulism, diarrhoea, Salmonellosis, Bacillary dysentery, Scarlet fever etc. Fungal contamination cause liver damage, cancer, ergotism, peripheral gangrene. Parasitic contamination may cause Ascariasis, amoebic dysentery, epigastric pain, loss of blood.

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