The Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Beijing said in a statement issued Thursday that an investigation found melamine in wheat gluten and rice protein exported to the USA by two Chinese companies.
…Although the Chinese media has avoided reporting America’s pet food recall and its possible Chinese origins, President Hu Jintao this week urged officials to intensify work on food safety, a growing concern among consumers within China where mass poisonings are common. At a senior Communist Party meeting Monday, Hu called on officials to monitor the entire food production process and focus on prevention and resolving problems at their source.
Achieving that will be difficult, said Luo Yunbo, head of the Food Science and Nutrition Engineering Institute at China’s Agricultural University, who briefed China’s leader Monday on how the U.S. FDA controls food safety. “President Hu and the government are very committed to food safety,” Luo said. “But China is such a large country, with such a large population, and agricultural production is by individual farmers on a very small scale. There are so many farmers and food producers that it is a great challenge to inspect all foodstuffs and teach people better agricultural standards.”
Binzhou Futian Bio-Technology Company, one of two firms China now admits exported the melamine-laced products, told its U.S. client Wilbur-Ellis that the contamination occurred through accidental reuse of dirty packaging, according to company president John Thacher. The FDA has said the melamine, a chemical high in nitrogen, might have been added to the grain products to make them appear higher in protein than they were.
Luo said that some Chinese food manufacturers include additives that are inappropriate.
“Sometimes people lack enough knowledge of additives, or even if they do know, they still do it,” Luo said, blaming weak punishment and “blanks” in China’s food legislation. “The current penalties are very small and should be much heavier. Some companies are fined and then move somewhere else and do it again,” Luo said.
Other experts agreed that China faces a stiff test to stamp out abuses.
I would say that we should start imposing inspection taxes on anything that could be food that comes in from China, or consider an outright ban.