Wednesday, October 01, 2008



It was quickly overshadowed by the financial crisis which unfolded in the US, but the poisoning of milk in China raises some serious questions.

In case you missed the story, over 50,000 children have so far been reported affected by the consumption of tainted milk which found it's way into infant formula. This was not a random case of some bacteria or virus getting past food safety measures, but rather was a deliberate case of greed driving a criminal act with no regard for the consuming public. This was not a case of some worker forgetting to wash their hands, but it was the deliberate criminal act of adding poison to a food supply for financial gain.

People in the dairy business in China were adding a chemical called Melamine to milk which had been watered down. This chemical apparently makes milk appear to have a higher protein content than it actually has. Obviously if you can pass off water as milk with the addition of some cheap poison you have the potential to increase your profit margins considerably.

In order for this criminal act to function it would have required the co-operation of different levels of officials who are supposed to be policing the industry or scarier still, is the possibility that there are no real measures in place to insure food safety.

Any nation which can have poisoned milk fed to their infants can hardly be trusted to produce safe food on any level.

It brings to remembrance the E.coli tainted spinach and the recent trouble with luncheon meats both of which happened in North America where food safety is taken very seriously. If poison laced milk can be sold what makes you think other food products can be trusted. What standards of cleanliness are in place among those handling food in China? What assurance do we have that pesticides we would not allow in North America are not being using in food production in China? The answer of course is, that we have no way of knowing.

I for one, will simply avoid any food product coming from China and opt for the more reliable products coming from North America. If it costs a few more dollars I am sure it is money well spent as China has proven to be an unreliable source of food.

The addition of melamine to wheat gluten and rice protein, coming from China, was the cause of kidney failure and the resulting death of large numbers of dogs and cats in North America. The deaths were caused by consuming pet food containing the tainted gluten and protein. This was a food product which also came from China. In this case it became an issue with pet food, but who knows where else this poisoned product was used.

The known health risk to humans is eventual kidney failure which of course in a normal healthy adult is not going to become evident for sometime. In the case of dogs and cats, they were not able to tolerate as much contamination before being overcome as perhaps an otherwise healthy adult who could be consuming melamine laced food over a long period of time before showing symtoms.

China clearly has a track record of doing whatever they need to to increase profits, and they do not seem to have the real desire or ability to police their own industries.

Avoiding any food product coming from China is the only sure way to avoid becoming a victim of these criminal activities as their protection agencies are clearly not up to the job.

This would be a good time to press our Canadian politicians to put in place a ban on all food products coming from China which could contain this tainted milk, as obviously infant formula is not the only place this milk would have been used.

In the meantime, rather than waiting for action from our political leaders take steps to protect yourself by simply not buying food produced in China.


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