Formula for Scandal—Why Chinese-Made Products Cannot Be Trusted Hetty Lee 10C For the purpose of this debate, let us rewind time back to December, 2007—it is nine months before the world becomes aware of the fact that there are plastics that we see shining on the countertops of Watsons in chocolate that we eat. It has been a few months since the Chinese-made dog food scandal, which killed and sickened thousands of dogs worldwide. The dairy firm Sanlu, in Heibei City, is beginning to receive consumer complaints of their products.
Sanlu continues to add powdered plastic melamine in their milk to dupe instruments used to measure protein levels. Melamine is used to make plastic and glue and contains toxins which can cause stomach ulcers, urinary tract blockages and kidney stones. It is July 16th 2008. The government of Gansu province notices sudden rise of kidney stones in infants who had all been drinking the same milk. It will take another two months for bewildered experts to discover the plastic in the formula milk.
It is August 2nd, and a New Zealand dairy company informs Sanlu that there is a problem with its formula powder. With the upcoming Olympics, the government of Beijing scrambles around, bribing and threatening news reporters to keep the scandal under the carpet until the 2008 Games are over. It is September 1st, and traces of melamine are found in Sanlu-made products. Ten days later, Sanlu announces its recall of 700 tons of powder. On September 13th, investigations begin. 21 other companies are found to have small amounts of melamine.
Since July 16th, four Chinese children have died from melamine-contaminated milk, and another 54,000 have been sickened (13,000 of which were hospitalized). Melamine has been found in products as far away as the United States and the Netherlands. Not many dairy products are left on Hong Kong supermarket shelves other than the neutral Swiss brand, Nestle. Let’s pause the playback for a little while. This scandal has caused one of the worst food contamination paranoia in many, many years, and that’s saying something for China.
Because of competition for profit and lack of proper monitoring of goods in China, its products have been failing food inspections for years now. According to the New York Times, fish and shrimp were rejected in the European Union because they contained banned fungicides and antibiotics. Dried fruit and vegetables contained large amounts of sulfite, a harmful preservative. Peanuts had high levels of fungal toxins. The metal wraps of packaged foods were found leaking into their contents. Mushrooms were found to have excessive amounts of mercury.
Banned dyes, hydrochloric acid and formaldehyde, a chemical used to store dead bodies, were found in pickles, seafood, cookies and candies. Though it is the 8th largest food exporter, China ranks 1st place (to match its place in the Olympic Games) in the number of dangerous exports. Fast forward and play. It is October 1st. Milk dealers, mayors of provinces and Sanlu’s boss have been arrested. It is now Friday, October 17th. The government stated that no more melamine was found in any milk supplies in China.
Unfortunately, China has also earned the third highest rate of import refusals in the world. You should also refuse to buy Chinese-made products (especially food), for your own health, safety and well being. And what about China’s future? Well, I’ll make a prediction to conclude. January 1st, 2100. Either the population of cows in China rises to meet consumer demand and all is well, or the cows produce even more methane gas and we all die of global warming. But that’s a whole different story.