Monday, October 27, 2008

What's Next? Chinese Melamine Suppliers Admit Sales to Animal and Fish Feed Producers in China; US Safety Laws Languish In Committees

Everyone will be talking about how eggs exported from China are contaminated with high levels of melamine, the toxic industrial additive at the heart of the adulteration scandal in Chinese milk products, and last year’s pet food recalls. Foods and food ingredients made from tainted Chinese milk products have been recalled over recent weeks. Now, we can expect food products derived from Chinese eggs to be the subject of upcoming recalls.

Here is what else we can expect. As cited in today’s New York Times, several Chinese melamine suppliers admitted to newspapers to selling melamine to animal feed operations and fish feed providers in China. Chinese manufacturers add melamine to falsely inflate the protein profile of their wheat flour or wheat gluten. The tainted wheat flour is then used to produce fish meal and animal feed and sold to fish farmers and other producers around the world. The tainted fish meal is also used in China’s immense aquaculture industry.

On October 13, 2008, this blog posed the question, “Can Chinese Catfish Be Trusted?” Chinese producers, in order to export fish to the US, must meet the same production standards as US fish farmers by December 2009. What does this really mean when there is no mechanism to police Chinese producers? Mandatory Country-Of-Origin-Labeling (mCOOL) does not apply to food components, that is -- if Chinese farmed-fish are baked into a casserole served at your child’s elementary school, there is no requirement to disclose that the fish was farmed in China, or that the casserole contains Chinese-made ingredients.

Senate Bill S.1776 (The Imported Food Security Act of 2007) would enable the FDA to withdraw the certification of any food importer that fails to meet U.S. safety standards. It has been sitting in committee since July of 2007.

And H.R. 3937 (the Food Import Safety Act) gives the FDA authority to ban imports from countries that have a pattern of food safety violations, as well as mandatory recall authority. It has been sitting in subcommittee since October of 2007.

The government is charged with insuring food safety in the United States. Its failure to act will be the proximate cause of food related illnesses and injuries in the United States. This is really a do-nothing Congress in the area of food safety.

Stand by . . .

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