The scandal of imported products from China has accelerated to a level that the public should demand "China-free" labels on anything that goes into a mouth. This includes not only food, vitamins and medicines but toothpaste and toys which, as all parents know, go into children's mouths.
The U.S. recall of nearly 1 million toys sold by Fisher-Price, because its paint contains excessive amounts of lead, is only the latest in a string of Chinese product safety scandals. Those toys are Fisher-Price's multimillion-dollar mistake, but the safety of food and drugs is a government responsibility; that's why there is a U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The Chinese government's response was, first, to deny the problem, then, to execute its top food and drug regulator. Sorry, that doesn't assuage our anxiety.
It would take a couple of generations and many billions of dollars to bring Chinese food up to U.S. health and safety standards. Nearly half of China's population lives without sewage treatment, and the water isn't safe, whether from the tap or in the sea or a pond.
The Chinese food scandal first came to public attention this spring when cats and dogs in the United States died. The FDA discovered that pet food processed in the United States and Canada used wheat flour from China contaminated with melamine, a chemical used to make plastics and fertilizers that fooled testers with false high protein readings.
The FDA announced an extensive recall of 100 pet food brands, but nobody asked the question, why is the United States importing wheat products? Can America possibly be short of wheat?
The U.S. Department of Agriculture said that as many as 20 million chickens and thousands of hogs in several states may have been fed contaminated feed. In May, 900,000 tubes of toothpaste imported from China were withdrawn because tests showed that glycerine had been replaced by diethylene glycol, a chemical used in antifreeze. This poisoned toothpaste has turned up in U.S. hospitals, prisons, and juvenile detention centers.
The United States imports 80 percent of the seafood consumed by Americans, and China is the largest foreign source. The FDA says that a quarter of the shrimp coming from China contains antibiotics that are not allowed in U.S. food production and cannot be eliminated by cooking.
The FDA rejected 51 shipments of catfish, eel, shrimp, and tilapia because of contaminants such as salmonella, veterinary drugs, and a cancer-causing chemical called nitrofuran.
Phyllis Schlafly is a national leader of the pro-family movement, a nationally syndicated columnist and author of Feminist Fantasies.
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