Bad, bad China: a round-up

By Andrea Karim on 28 June 2007 (Updated 19 August 2007) 25 comments
Photo: Leo Reynolds

Well, I've pretty much come to the conclusion that I need to stop buying Chinese goods. This is a tough one for me, mostly because so much of the cheap stuff that I love to buy comes from China, and as my readers know, I really like China and would like to see the country succeed.

However, one headline after another is screaming to me that I need to seriously consider the source of what I am buying before I buy it. At the very least, you too should consider keeping an eye out for the following:

Poison poissons? From BBC.

"The FDA is not allowing the import of these Chinese farmed seafood products until the importers can prove that the seafood is free from harmful contaminants," Dr. David Acheson, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's assistant commissioner for food protection, said during an afternoon teleconference.

He identified the banned fish as catfish, basa (similar to catfish), shrimp, dace (similar to carp) and eel, which he said may contain chemicals that are potentially carcinogenic.

Want shiny teeth? Try anti-freeze. From CBS.com.

The New York Times reported today that approximately 900,000 tubes of tainted Chinese toothpaste has shown up in prisons, juvenile detention centers and hospitals in North and South Carolina, Georgia and Florida, including some serving the general population.

It's been going on for a lot longer than you think! From SF Gate.

"The U.S. imports a lot of Chinese glycerin, and it is used in ingested products such as toothpaste," Mary Pendergast, then deputy commissioner for the Food and Drug Administration, wrote on Oct. 27, 1997. Learning how diethylene glycol, a syrupy poison used in some antifreeze, ended up in Haitian fever medicine might "prevent this tragedy from happening again," she wrote.

[emphasis mine]

China responds. From CNN.com via Itchmo.

Formaldehyde, illegal dyes, and industrial wax were found being used to make candy, pickles, crackers and seafood, it said, citing Han Yi, an official with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which is responsible for food safety.

"These are not isolated cases," Han, director of the administration's quality control and inspection department, was quoted as saying.

Getting tired of all the bad news from China? Ha! From Newsinferno.

Defective tires have been added to an ever-growing list of dangerous Chinese imports. The National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) ordered 450,000 tires recalled after Foreign Tire Sales, the New Jersey company that imported the tires, disclosed that they had been manufactured without a gum strip meant to keep the tread from separating. The tires, manufactured by Hangzhou Zhongce Rubber, have been blamed for at least two accidents, one of which was fatal.

Poison toys. Good times. From ABC News.

China by far leads the list of countries making products that are recalled in the United States, accounting for 65 percent of all the recalled products in this country this year, according to CPSC. In 2006, China accounted for 233 product recalls -- nearly double the rate from the previous year, with lead a recurring cause among the recalls.

It's the attack of the killer tomato paste! In Italy! From WineNews.com.

And, Coldiretti emphasized, among the arrivals from the Asian giant it is significant that tomato concentrate, which represents almost one third of imports (31%), has registered a record import increase of 150%. This is a particularly worrisome situation for Italy because it was unable to obtain a norm for the mandatory printing of the origins of a product on labels, thus the risk that non Italian goods will be sold as Italian made.

Ok, well, that last one isn't so bad. Yet.

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Guest's picture
Guest

No one is going to sustain a boycott against Chinese goods. It just ain't gonna happen.

Guest's picture
Guest

It's not a boycott; it's self-protection.

Guest's picture
Tina P

Yahoo just ran an article about a family who boycotted all Chinese goods for 2005. It is, to say the least, HARD...

http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070628/us_nm/books_madeinchina_dc

Guest's picture
Guest

Uh, YEAH....I think we're starting to finally see the trend here! The Chineese are slowly trying to poison us, HELLO!!!!

But seriously...who has the time to go around reading labels for what country something was made in?
And does it even SAY IT on most of the foods we buy??
(I have seen canada on some store brand french fries, I'll admit.)

This is getting ridiculous now.
I'm jogging my memory, announcement after announcement, to try and decide if any of my family, especially my kids, have used or eaten anything on the recall lists!

It's a very helpless situation, and there's enough to worry about in life, besides whether or not another country is trying to poison us....let alone blow us up!!!

Sheesh! Why can't we just live on Earth and be happy?
I think John Lennon was right.
"Imagine there's no countries".

Seriously.

Guest's picture
Guest

Boycotting this, boycotting that. How about boycotting the war?

Guest's picture

If you manage this, I would really love to read some tips on how you managed it. It is something that I would like to do myself, but I am a bit overwhelmed at the mere thought. For example, I told my high-school students that I would give them a dollar for each item (non-food) that they found at Walmart and brought in to show me. They got pretty frustrated, and I didn't pay a cent.

Andrea Karim's picture

I will definitely keep people posted on how it goes. I have a feeling I'll end up doing some version of The Compact, in which I do my best not to purchase anything that is newly manufactured, and only barter or buy used items as I need them.

As to (Guest) boycotting the war, pray tell how we go about doing that? Unless you're being sarcastic. In which case, nyah.

 

Guest's picture
Temoshi

I find historical China interesting, but I'm not so thrilled with modern China. The recent health reports are alarming, but it's more the Tibet/Taiwan/Ughyer/Falun Gong/free speech/other human rights abuses that make me want to boycott Chinese goods. The problem is, it would be just about impossible to do. You can buy a lot of everyday items that are made elsewhere, but try finding consumer electronics that are not made in China. It really bothers me that the United States has so much economic interest in China that they could care less what the government does.

Andrea Karim's picture

I don't know that historical China was any better in terms of human rights. I think that's much of the reason that the Communists had such popular support at first. People were really sick of being kicked around. Of course, they're probably STILL tired of being kicked around.

The thing that bugs me about boycotts is that they (supposedly) cause harm to the people who are selling the goods. I don't want to cost anyone in China their job, but then again, there are obviously people there (be they managers or whatever) who are deliberately doing truly horrible things, using chemicals that should not be used, knowingly.

I don't think it's directed at the US, exactly. I think it's all a part of the Get Rich Quick mentality that has taken hold in China. We're as guilty of it as anyone else, but it's causing some very dangerous situations here.

I suppose if a boycott were to take a targeted approach - no Chinese toys or imported Chinese food - we could make a dent in those industries. So far, we haven't heard of any Chinese imported electronics that are poisoning dogs or anything.

Guest's picture
Temoshi

Good point. In other news, I bought two pairs of shoes today. Both made in China.

Andrea Karim's picture

I hope to goodness not, but you never know.

Guest's picture
Joann

Hey Andrea,
Maybe you've already heard of this, but here's an interesting book. This article summarizes the story about a family who tried to boycott China for a year. http://news.yahoo.com/s/nm/20070628/us_nm/books_madeinchina_dc;_ylt=ArWI...

Guest's picture
Joann

Someone already posted the same thing up there! Oops

Guest's picture
Rob in Madrid

We better hope that the Chinese can get there act together because as you can see it is almost impossible to avoid buying anything there. The Chinese have conquered the manufacturing side of things they are no moving on to the food side of things and that's where it get's really scary. So many manufactures have gone out of business that finding some non China based food stuffs is almost impossible. Wheat glutton for example is used in almost every food item out there. AND GUESS WHAT China manufacturers 90% of the worlds glutton. The last US manufacture is just about to go out of business. Think of that when your feed your baby formula!

Where lucky the voters had the sense to kick out the business friendly Repulicians. The last thing big business want's the American public to know is how much of our food stuff comes from China.

Beth L. Chapman's picture

I think it's great that people are realizing how unscrupulous some Chinese manufacturers can be.  Any time I can opt for a product not made in China, I do it. 

BLC

Andrea Karim's picture

The thing about food is that we CAN eat food that was not grown in China. It's hard, but it's doable. You just have to start making stuff from scratch.

I encourage everyone I know to try, especially during the summer, to eat local foods. It takes a bit more effort, and I know it can be tough when you're busy, but if you give yourself even a one-week break from processed foods, you'll just feel better.

But as for chips, dips, boxed goods and brownies, as well as Veggie Booty, yeah, it's all Chinese.

Guest's picture
Guest

all MADE IN CHINA CRAPS!!!

Guest's picture
Guest

since clinton make stupid free trade with china we all get screwing now...cheap labour with communist country most they just rape their labour.made in other country have free trade just wonderful dollar for coorporation

Guest's picture
Guest

George HW Bush gave most favored trade status to China years before Clinton ever took office.

Guest's picture
stacy

i agree with seriously cuz this is getting crazy and what if your own kids ate some chinese products like the one where the chinese were putting 60% cardboard in their dumplings if your kids ate that you would wanna boycott them am i right cuz even though there is the war we should boycott cuz all they are doing is making any products with anything in it just to make money i mean they could be risking someones life or even your childs life and think anti-freeze in your childs mouth or them eating dumplings with cardboard in it i mean come on people citizens and children we DO need to do something ,peoples lives are at risk im not 18YRS old yetnot even close yet but i know what im talking about and i think that if we dont do something about them importing foods and products from china it will lead to a crisis for they are literally poisoning the country of the united states and i belive that if we do not do something soon and we just sit around doing nothing about it we WILL have a major crisis on our hands in a couple of years or so and if you took the time to read this i soon hope you understand just how serious this really is it might not seem serious yet but over the years it will.

Guest's picture
Sideshow Bob

The key words here are Sub Standard!
What happened to all of the Safety boards and Agencies that are supposed to protect the citizens of the USA?
Did they fall off the the end of the earth? or is it some kind of conspiracy hatched by the federal government and the importers to allow unfettered capitalism and glut at the expense of the well-being of its citizens?

I for one avoid all Chineese made products if possible.
Operative words, if possible. I do love Chineese food although I do hold the Breaded Chicken Balls in High Suspicion. You never know what exactly is in those breaded balls, do you? It could be some poor creatures b**ls or other parts, not necessarily Chicken!

Don't hate the Playa, the Chineese, hate the game, American capitalism.

It is up to the American Government to protect its citizens not the Chineese.

The Chineese are only playing the game created by American capitalism.

How ironic it is that our Capitalist country puts the safety of all its citizens in the hands of a socialist communist country!!

What say you to that?

Guest's picture
Eric

Protect yourself...and your jobs. Dont buy from China. It is easier than you think, as long as you dont shop at walmart/target type stores!

Guest's picture
blossominak

It is not the responsibility of the government to protect you, it is your responsibility, that is what is wrong with our country. People need to depend on and take care of themselves and their families. We are screwing ourselves when we look to the government for a solution.

Andrea Karim's picture

Actually, it IS the responsibility of the government to protect you. That's why we pay tax dollars to our government - so that the agencies that regulate imports will protect us from poisonous goods. While I appreciate self-sufficiency, there's only so much the modern American can do given limited time and resources to protect themselves from tainted imports. I'm sick of the "stop relying on the government" comments I keep seeing - we HAVE to rely on the government, and waht's more, we PAY them to do this job. It's not a matter of letting them off the hook, it's a matter of holding them accountable for ensuring our safety. THAT is there job.