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September 24th, 2008
12:39 PM ET

Toxic milk and poisonous practices: What's next?

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2008/images/09/24/art.chinababyformula.jpg caption = "A baby suffering from kidney stones receives treatment at a hospital in Lanzhou, northwestern China's Gansu province."]

John Vause | BIO
CNN Correspondent
 

Food security is a bit like Homeland security – you can only protect against what you know, and what you think the bad guys might do.

So, now we know they put the toxic chemical melamine in the milk – what’s next? It’s a pretty safe bet that people who poison baby’s milk for a few extra bucks, aren’t going to stop there.

Last year, melamine was found in the pet food which killed and sickened thousands of dogs and cats across the United States. Back then it was done for exactly the same reasons – melamine is normally used to make stuff like plastic, but when added to substandard pet food ingredients and water-downed milk, it can fake high readings of protein which means you can sell it for a higher price. A colleague of mine suggested maybe this time it was an innocent mix up . . . putting the plastic in the milk, not the milk into the plastic.

So, now melamine has been unveiled as serial offended, it begs the question – what other toxic chemicals are being added to what food to marginally boost profits?

That’s the really big issue here in China – bigger than the really big implications of contaminated dairy products swirling around the world – at least now officials know what they’re looking for.

But the long suffering consumers in this country have endured soy sauce made from human hair, lard from sewage, napkins from recycled hospital waste, hair elastics from used condoms . . they’ve had cancer causing antibiotics in seafood, and the government admits 60% of the booze on sale is fake, which may explain some of my more painful mornings.

But the big job for China’s government, bigger than staging the best Olympics ever, is to now convince the people who buy their products – both here and overseas – that it’s safe.

There will always be problems, food recalls and contamination occur everywhere, and it will happen here again. But next time, companies and government officials have to do everything they can, as quickly as they can to warn the public. So far, the folks here are yet to learn, it’s usually the cover up that’s worse than the crime.


Filed under: Global 360° • John Vause • Tainted Milk
soundoff (10 Responses)
  1. Annie Kate

    China needs to have oversight and regulatory organizations like the US has to ensure that products are tested and do not contain unknown ingredients that will sicken and kill people or animals. If China cannot police its product they sell to us, we need to quit buying – its not just our wallets on the line here, its our lives as well and those of our children.

    Annie Kate
    Birmingham AL

    September 24, 2008 at 9:13 pm |
  2. Joy in Seattle

    China's crimes against their own people are just astounding.

    September 24, 2008 at 4:52 pm |
  3. Melissa, Los Angeles

    @ Gary and what...America is suppose to keep buying their shoddy products because of that threat? I didn't say outlaw them from sending products over. They can send what they want but if nobody buys it and they'll either have to quit sending stuff over or change their products. We do live in a capitalist society so we can choose which companies we want to support. If they don't change their business practices, then they'll fail.

    September 24, 2008 at 4:42 pm |
  4. Heather,Ca,US

    I have to wonder if they will ever get that there is more to a countries success than the superficial facades. If they put as much money that we give them with our one sided trade policy into establishing standards and rules for food,we wouldn't have dead animals from their products and they wouldn't have dead babies. They can say all they want but in the end they only have themselves to blame and the facade of the Olympic games is long gone.

    September 24, 2008 at 3:17 pm |
  5. Gary Chandler in Canada

    Melissa,,, If China stopped shipping goods to the USA, America would need a 700 quatrillion rescue.
    Russia and China could destroy America by calling their loans!

    September 24, 2008 at 3:16 pm |
  6. Keith

    As much as we may have issues with China, canada can go screw itself in its own election debacles, we probably need to become more politically aligned with China before they jump into the Chavez, Putin alignment.

    September 24, 2008 at 3:08 pm |
  7. robyn

    Not only is this scary but it so sad. How can people be so evil? Yet a couple of evil people have the power to ruin a huge economy – I will do my best to avoid buying chinese products at least until my confidence has been regained. One can never be too safe when they have young children and I suspect many feel the same way.

    September 24, 2008 at 2:14 pm |
  8. Melissa, Los Angeles

    As long as the world continues its demands for cheap goods – China will continue making them through these shady business practices. Quality products cost money to make that many of us are not willing or can't pay. The only solution I see is to boycott anything made in China (I'm Chinese and that's what my mom always tells me). The country is so big I can't see it being able to regulate everything. Heck so much bootleg products come from there still so the government obviously can't do their job.

    September 24, 2008 at 1:48 pm |
  9. Betty Ann, Nacogdches,TX

    John,
    What an outrage! I may have to take a "news" break before I have a "news" breakdown!
    Lord help us all!
    Geez~ what's next?

    September 24, 2008 at 1:28 pm |
  10. Gary Chandler in Canada

    This is the country who is holding America's national debt in the palm of their hands!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

    September 24, 2008 at 1:12 pm |