It's difficult to calculate the amount of Chinese food in the USA food chain,
but a recent estimate from the Department of Agriculture said that
13 percent of the nation's diet is imported food.
Low prices have fueled the rise of big agriculture in China.
"When food gets that cheap, you really wonder
how much of the ingredients are authentic
and how much are some cheaper substitute."
I don't think it's rocket science to assume that a thinking, informed person would not consciously eat food that came from China. I know I sure wouldn't.
When I discovered (a few years ago when casually reading the label) that canned button mushrooms that I thought were grown in the Fraser Valley of British Columbia - 300 miles down the road - came from CHINA I dropped the can as though it were a hot potato. I couldn't believe my eyes, that these mushrooms came from China, and took the can to the cashier and asked her if she was aware. She wasn't either, having assumed that because they were the brand-name "Money's Mushrooms" (a huge and respected mushroom grower here in Canada made famous by a cooking show personality) they would be grown here. I showed her the label and she was shocked.
Since that time I have never bought canned button mushrooms (required for a "Best of Bridge" salad recipe I sometimes make), substituting instead with regular-sized fresh mushrooms (buttons are seldom available).
I have been a food-label reader for many years and try not to buy food imported from anywhere farther than the USA, preferring if at all possible to get food "made in Canada". That has been getting much more difficult these past couple of years and I have stopped eating some foods because of it, for example acorn squash at Thanksgiving which - like many other fresh vegetables and fruit - comes from Mexico. They're having enough problems feeding their own people - let alone ours - and their hygenic standards leave much to be desired.
But even I (a consummate label-reader) was SHOCKED to learn just recently (through the poison-pet-food revelations) that wheat-gluten (from Canadian wheat?) was MADE in China. How could that be? How is it that we in Canada - the supposedly largest wheat growing nation in the world - have anything to do with wheat from CHINA (or any other food for that matter)?
China is a THIRD WORLD country with a population of 1.3 BILLION people, the vast majority of whom live in dire poverty and hunger. China is also the most polluted nation on the planet with no rules and regulations regarding humane treatment of people or animals. Their government is a brutal tyranny made up of communist party members (and their associates) who cavort with capitalists and live like millionaires while "the people" live like slaves and abused animals.
Here in Canada we have a miniscule population of 32 million people stretched over a land so rich in resources and arable land that it could feed the entire world (if its farms weren't being destroyed and bought-up by corporations who genetically modify the crops and then turn them into fuel for machines instead of food for humans).
Now I have recently learned [July 2007] that made-in-China food is EVERYWHERE in North America (as are all their other products) and that even if the label says "made in Canada" it could have come from China.
This infiltration of our food supply by an enemy nation (because China is not our friend, in spite of what corporations and complicit governments would have us believe) is a very dangerous and serious situation.
In "1984" Orwell said that food in "Oceania" (present day England, America, Australia etc) had "strange evil tastes". Now we know what he was talking about. Oh wake us from your nightmare, George. ~ Jackie Jura
'Made in Canada' - via China
A host of unsourced ingredients may lie in what's being sold under homemade banners
by Rebecca Dube, Globe & Mail, Jul 6, 2007
Florence Wood threw out all of her dog's made-in-China biscuits during this spring's melamine scare. Last week, after hearing warnings about unsafe fish and tainted toothpaste imported from China, she decided to purge her own pantry. Goodbye, tinned salmon. So long, mandarin oranges. Farewell, frozen fish. "Anything at all that comes from China that's edible we are not going to eat now," said Ms. Wood, a retired secretary in Lac-des-Īles, Que. She's even nervous about putting leftovers in made-in-China plastic containers.
She's not alone. More consumers are taking a hard look at "Made in China" labels after a string of recalls and publicity over deplorable safety standards in China. But it's nearly impossible to get out of the supermarket without food from China in your cart. The good news is that avoiding products labelled "Made in China" won't crimp your grocery list, unless you really like frozen seafood - including shrimp, pollock, sole, haddock and salmon. The bad news is that food labels don't tell the whole story. A host of Chinese imports are hiding behind "Made in Canada" labels, from the freeze-dried strawberries in your cereal to the wheat gluten in your hamburger buns.
"Made in Canada" simply means that 51 per cent of the production cost was incurred in Canada; the ingredients could come from anywhere, and increasingly they come from China. For example, manufacturers can import apple juice concentrate from China - for about one-fifth the cost of Canadian concentrate - add water to it in Canada, and mark it "Made in Canada."
"We eat food from China every day, we just don't know about it," says Dr. Keith Warriner, an assistant professor of food science at the University of Guelph. Canadians ate $430-million worth of food from China last year, and as China's economic power grows so does its reach into our supermarkets, our kitchens - even our churches. Canada imported $9.5-million worth of communion wafers from China last year, along with $113-million worth of frozen fish fillets and $28-million worth of apple juice.
"A Canadian producer can source its supplies for cents [in China] rather than for dollars here," Dr. Warriner explains. But North American consumers have recently become aware that inexpensive Chinese imports sometimes bear a hidden cost. This spring, thousands of dogs and cats fell ill or died after eating pet food containing wheat gluten from China that was contaminated with melamine. Since then, consumers have been warned about seafood, including shrimp and catfish, that doesn't meet safety standards; contaminated toothpaste and juices, and "Veggie Booty" snack food tainted by salmonella - all from China.
Meanwhile, Chinese officials have insisted their exported food is safe. But this week, Beijing acknowledged that one-fifth of the goods made and sold in China are substandard, and the former head of China's food and drug administration, Zheng Xiaoyu, was recently sentenced to death for accepting bribes.
Canadian officials stand by their policy of testing Chinese food imports on a case-by-case basis when concerns are raised about specific products. Dr. Warriner believes greater scrutiny of imports from China will ultimately come not from governments, but from food companies with valuable brand reputations at stake. "If we started labelling all the individual ingredients, the label would be a book," he says. Dr. Warriner says that he avoids some made-in-China products, such as frozen fish, but that there's "no cause for alarm" about the myriad ingredients from China that fill our bellies daily. Not everyone is so sanguine.
Canada's growing gluttony for Chinese imports is a disaster waiting to happen, says Bruce Cran, president of the Consumers Association of Canada. Other than writing to their MPs or buying only locally grown food, Mr. Cran says, there's not much Canadian consumers can do about it. "Consumers are handicapped because we don't have the information we need on the labels," says Mr. Cran, whose family has sworn off all apple juice, regardless of its country-of-origin label, because so much of it comes from China. Ms. Wood feels similarly skeptical. "We just don't think it's safe," she says. She wishes food labels were more specific. For instance, she has a jar of olives that says "Product of Canada" on it. "Now, we know we don't have olive trees in Canada," Ms. Wood says. "So where does it come from?"
Top Ten Foods in volume Canada imported from China in 2006
(in millions of kilograms)
Mandarins, clementines and similar citrus hybrids, fresh/dried - 33.9
Frozen fish fillets - 24.4
Apple juice - 21.7 (millions of litres)
Pears and quinces, fresh - 13.6
Raw peanuts - 10.6
Frozen shrimps and prawns -10.4
Pasta - 10.3
Mushrooms - 8.9
Other citrus fruits - 8.8
Shrimps and prawns, prepared or preserved - 7.3
Food from China: Can you trust it?
Not even the people monitoring imports can say with certainty
that those goods are safe for consumption
by Matt McKinney, Star Tribune, July 19, 2007
At a computer in a spare Minneapolis office, Shaun Kennedy clicks through screen after screen of import records kept by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. He checks America's cocoa supply. Last year, the United States imported millions of dollars worth of the tropical powder from Canada. "Cocoa? From Canada?" he smirks. Kennedy, co-director of the National Center for Food Protection and Defense, a Homeland Security agency based at the University of Minnesota, said the cocoa came from elsewhere but was shipped to Canada, processed into chocolate and sent here. Its true origin is not listed.
Today's family meal is a global affair, with a menu of main courses, side dishes and unseen ingredients arriving from the farthest corners of the Earth. But recent scares, including the sickening of two children in Minnesota, are revealing an unsettling truth: Even the experts can't be sure where our food comes from.
And even if some records don't show it, more and more is coming from China, where government authorities have acknowledged that the food chain is rife with fake and sometimes hazardous ingredients.
China is the third-largest supplier of food and animal feed to the United States. It sent $2.3 billion worth of agricultural products to the United States last year, nearly double what was sent three years earlier. The growth of that trade so far this year is a torrid 34 percent, according to the Department of Commerce.
When pet food tainted with melamine found its way to North America three months ago, it not only sickened dogs and cats, but it also woke up U.S. food safety inspectors to the inadequacies of their procedures. They weren't even looking for melamine. Soon, government agencies had turned to Kennedy and the Center for Food Protection for advice. What else should they start looking for? This week, Kennedy will brief a congressional committee on what we know about our food supply. And then it's on to a project to understand how food and drug inspectors can stop dangerous imports before they end up in supermarkets. The stakes are high. Global food trading in 2005 accounted for $699 billion of exports worldwide, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
The cocoa record is an example of transshipment, a way for food suppliers to wash away the true origin of their product simply by shipping it through a third country.
Other problems are more obvious. Poisoned seafood. Ginseng extract contaminated with pesticides. Filthy salmon. These were among the issues with 146 Chinese imports that U.S. regulators seized last month at U.S. ports, the most of any one country. But China is not the only problem. U.S. inspectors blocked 141 shipments from India last month and 138 from Mexico, as well as nearly 100 shipments from the Dominican Republic because of pesticide contamination.
And, owing to a shortage of inspectors, most everything else was simply waved through, the agency admits. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) inspects less than 1 percent of all imports and tests even less, according to William Hubbard, a former associate director at the agency who now lobbies for more funding and inspections. Critics charge that the FDA, with a budget of $450 million to $500 million, is woefully underfunded. "That's not a lot of money to protect 80 percent of the food supply in the country," said Pat Verduin, chief science officer for the Grocery Manufacturers Association, a trade group. That fact leaves food companies to do much of the policing themselves. They have good reason to do so, said one observer: They're just one bad ingredient away from a ruined reputation.
General Mills spokesman Tom Forsythe said the company, which is based in Golden Valley, has a "tremendous investment" in food safety in China, where they began operations in the late 1990s, and among other things, taught farmers there how to grow corn. The No. 2 maker of cereal closely supervises its local vendors and uses surprise third-party audits. "That's just the nature of the beast," said Forsythe.
Cargill, the Minnetonka-based food ingredients giant, began its China business in the early 1970s, making starches, glucose, dextrose, maltodextrin, high fructose corn syrup, xanthan gum and DHA, according to company documents. Much of those food ingredients stay there to feed the local economy, said spokesman Mark Klein.
Neither company would give specifics on what they import from China, how much or in what American food those ingredients end up.
For its part, China has fought back to defend its reputation. On Saturday, officials announced it was suspending imports of some U.S. chicken and pork products, including those from major producers such as Cargill and Tyson Foods. The Chinese claim that the products are tainted with chemicals or bacteria.
The rush of things Chinese sweeping into the American diet includes dried grapes, tomato paste, popcorn and ginger. And they're arriving in amounts, depending on the product, that have doubled, quadrupled or grown even more in the past five years. It's difficult to calculate the amount of Chinese food in the U.S. food chain, but a recent estimate from the Department of Agriculture said that 13 percent of the nation's diet is imported food.
China, which accounts for a sixth of the world's population, grows more than a third of the world's fruit and vegetables, a fifth of the world's cereal crops (including rice) and a quarter of the world's fish and crustaceans. It's not just food. China is the world's largest producer of antibiotics, responsible for 80 percent of the world's supply of some forms of penicillin, according to an analyst.
Not surprisingly, low prices have fueled the rise of big agriculture in China. Citric acid sells for 90 cents per kilogram in China today, or just more than a third of the ubiquitous food ingredient's price 12 years ago when it was primarily made in the United States and Europe, according to Leo Hepner, a consultant based in London. "When food gets that cheap, you really wonder how much of the ingredients are authentic and how much are some cheaper substitute," said Jean Kinsey, co-director of the University of Minnesota's Food Science Center.
Perhaps the Chinese would agree. The country's food safety watchdog recently reported that for the first six months of this year, nearly 20 percent of products made for the domestic market were substandard. Chinese regulators have begun to take its domestic food producers to task, making an announcement two weeks ago that it had closed 180 food plants over food safety concerns. And on Tuesday, the country executed the former head of the nation's food and drug agency for taking bribes while approving untested medicines, leading to the deaths of at least 10 people, according to news accounts.
Still, for many U.S. consumers, the alarm bell has been rung. Consumers today get country of origin labels for their seafood, and by October of next year they will learn origins of produce, meat and peanuts, once additional pieces of a 2002 law on food labeling go into effect after years of industry foot-dragging.
Kennedy, of the Center for Food Protection, said he's learning, too. He plans to study transshipments and each country's production records, available through the United Nations, in what's becoming an intensifying search to get a better sense of where our food comes from.
Canada kills apple trees for wine grapes (then imports apples from China) & Canada fruit & vegetable growers extinct (import food from China, Mexico, USA). FinancePost/AP, Jul 15, 2008
China one-child policy makes orphans. MaineSunJournal, Aug 10, 2007
...For many centuries China had been plagued by periodic famines and starvation. Usually, this resulted from poor weather or floods, but in 1959 and 1960, millions of Chinese also starved to death when an attempt by Mao Tse-tung to collectivize farms went awry. Private farm ownership was eliminated, and farm families were forced into thousands of communes. It was a tragic failure. But the repeated shortages of food were also worsened by two simple facts: In China, about 22 percent of the world's people live on 7 percent of the world's arable land. In the late 1970s, Chinese leaders realized that with such a high fertility rate (the average Chinese woman was bearing about six children in her lifetime), the country's population could quickly - and catastrophically - outstrip its ability to produce food. So, in 1979, Chinese leadership embarked on an ambitious program of economic growth and birth control...
CHINA POLLUTION HITS AMERICA
China pollution hitting America (causing weather chaos). WallStreetJournal, Jul 26, 2007
'Made in Canada' - via China. Globe & Mail, July 6, 2007
Food from China: Can you trust it? Star Tribune, Jul 19, 2007
WHERE'S THE BEEF GONNA GO? and CANADA IS CHINADA
WORLD FOOD BANK and WEATHER & FOOD CONTROL
15.Life in Oceania and 9.Keeping Masses Down and 7.Systems of Thought and 6.Super-States
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