Recalling pet-food contamination, Youngstown veterinarian worries about human food from China

Recalling pet-food contamination, Youngstown veterinarian worries about human food from China

Last Halloween season I no- ticed unfamiliar bags of candy in the grocery store. On closer inspection, I discovered they were made in China. This concerns me primarily because of the pet food contamination crisis that we experienced in 2007. Do you think the problem has been solved?

Contrary to what our government might tell us, our food supply is at risk, and not just from Salmonella or E. coli. According to Dr. Linda Tollefson, director of the FDA Regional Office in Europe (and vet school classmate), only 0.6 percent of foods imported into the USA are inspected. Less than 1 percent. Now consider that 60 percent of the apple juice used in this country today comes from China. Apple juice happens to be the main ingredient in most children’s snack drinks.

Last year an energy food bar I purchased was recalled because it contained peanut butter that may have been contaminated with Salmonella. This is a highly-regarded, homespun company that prides itself in quality. They even display the “USDA Organic” emblem on their packages. I e-mailed the company’s website and asked if they used any ingredients from China. The reply was that they search the world for the finest quality ingredients for their products. Reading between the lines, the answer was, “yes.”

I sent another e-mail, this time identifying myself as a veterinarian and Air Force public health officer. I got a phone call. The representative said that, yes, they do use some ingredients from China, but she was not able to tell me what. I replied that unless their company was “hands-on” in China, they couldn’t be sure of what they

See CHINA, A11

were getting. Checking the USDA’s

Organic Foods Production Act of 1990, I discovered an interesting clause, Section 2106 (d) “Small Farmer Exemption – Subsection (a)(1) shall not apply to persons who sell no more than $5,000 annually in value of agricultural products.” Now, the average wage in China is $2,300. So much for the label, “USDA Organic.”

Our government can only be sure of 0.6 percent of the foods imported into this country. More and more types of foods and food ingredients allowed into the USA are originating in China. Some are moved through other Southeast Asian countries to bypass our restrictions, but the real origin is actually China. Frozen foods from China and Southeast Asia, especially frozen fish, are being imported and sold in our neighborhood stores.

China-sourced food ingredients are so pervasive in our processed foods that it’s very likely the majority of processed foods contain something from that country. Processed foods include dog and cat treats as well as other regular dog and cat foods. It’s not a bacterial contamination I worry about, but contamination with heavy metals, pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals we don’t use in this country and don’t necessarily test for. I never heard of melamine until 2007, and we weren’t looking for it in the pet food supply. Part of the current “global economy” movement in Congress is to eliminate source labeling on imported products. That would be bad. I’m waiting for the other shoe to fall. Please read the label.

Donald K. Allen, MS, DVM, Youngstown