Updated FDA Food Pyramid

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  1. Joan commented on May 27

    On May 6, the NY Times ran an article talking about medicine laced with anti-freeze that was comin’ outta’ China and into Panama for local consumption. To make a point underscoring the fact that our manufacturers don’t know the origins of what they are feeding us, read this cut-and-paste: … “Forty-six barrels of the toxic syrup arrived via a poison pipeline stretching halfway around the world. Through shipping records and interviews with government officials, The New York Times traced this pipeline from the Panamanian port of Colón, back through trading companies in Barcelona, Spain, and Beijing, to its beginning near the Yangtze Delta in a place local people call “chemical country.” The 46 barrels in question contained diethylene glycol (an industrial solvent and prime ingredient in some antifreeze) but was labeled as “99.5% pure glycerin” which, as you know, is used as a sweetener in some foods, cough syrups and toothpaste. What’s the motive for the deception? Why, cost, naturally! The upshot is that last year, this poison was mixed into 260k bottles of cough syrup by the Panamanian government. Thus, among the so-far deaths, there were kids. “The kidneys fail first. Then the central nervous system begins to misfire. Paralysis spreads, making breathing difficult, then often impossible without assistance. In the end, most victims die.”

    Can you imagine having given something as seemingly harmless as cough syrup to a sick child which sent him into kidney failure and ultimately, death? It is unfathomable that the world is allowing this to continue.

    But what about the mention of the use of glycerin in toothpaste? Glad you asked. Because that brings us straight forward to today’s hot story on China.
    http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/22/business/worldbusiness/22toothpaste.html

    “China investigates Contaminated Toothpaste” talks about the suspicion that some diethylene glycol-tainted toothpaste has turned up in Latin America, some of it marketed for children. ...“No tainted toothpaste has been found in the United States, but a spokesman for the Food and Drug Administration said yesterday that the agency would be taking “a hard look” at whether to issue an import alert.” …

    That’s a real comfort, eh? Please read the article and you will see not only the level of the diethylene glycol (50 x any safety level), but also how these poisonous goods are smuggled in and around various networks so that they turn up all over the place. And again, nobody knows where they came from! Now here is the attitude of the manufacturer in China. It’s stunning in its nonchalance: …“Mr. Hu at Goldcredit said that while he did not produce the toothpaste shipped to Panama, diethylene glycol had been used for years at very low levels in Chinese toothpaste as a glycerin substitute. “If diethylene glycol were poisonous,” he said, “all Chinese people would have been poisoned.””

    That’s just so wonderful a consolation, I am overwhelmed with joy. So let’s think about this for a moment, shall we? John Q. American Public has seen his standard of living eroded over time as that is a byproduct of globalization. Plain and simple. Get it? We have given them some of our standard of living. Now we see this raw deal start to come full circle because in return, they are giving us some of their non-existent standards. How’s that, you ask? Well, we could start by talkin’ about basic sanitary conditions. And then we could progress to felonious use of industrial solvents in consumer goods. Which evidently, has been a practice in China that has come under no scrutiny. Until they started transferring the unthinkable to US shores. And then, by virtue of those pet deaths, have now been exposed.

    But when you mull this development in the bigger picture, you might come to realize a much darker side of the story. Think about it. We gave them our jobs. They stole our technology. They bought our govvies, keeping rates down, underpinning economic growth. They sold us cheap manufactured goods which helped to keep CPI inflation in check. Alas, they also assisted PPI by selling tainted and poisonous ingredients to US producers. Who gladly scooped them up in the name of sacred margins with a view towards “hitting their numbers”. At the bottom of this death spiral, we have John Q. who is now eating filthy and poisoned food. Alas, thought, it’s not just the food, no sir. According to an article in the Sydney Morning Herald … drum roll …
    http://www.smh.com.au/news/national/chinese-textiles-could-
    pose-cancer-risk/2007/05/20/1179601244347.html

    “In a report obtained by the Herald, one brand of blanket imported from China and widely distributed was found to have almost 10 times the amount of formaldehyde permissible under international standards.” Apparently, the textile was imported from China but the blankets made in Australia. You probably know that formaldehyde exposure is directly linked to leukemia and lung cancer. Yes, the US, Europe and Japan have standards. But again, who is enforcing this stuff? Please visualize one of those “supertankers” 10,000 containers wide and high.

    How the heck can we check this stuff? We cannot. But you do know that the alternative is an immediate ban. Can you bite the bullet? The Chinese do it all the time. Don’t you remember a couple o’ years back, when they bought up all those soybeans at the highs and then refused to take delivery, leaving I think Cargill, Argentina and Brazil, hangin’ out to dry as counterparties? They invented some kind of “contamination” of those beans in order to DK the trades. So why are we still playin’ Patsy? Haven’t you seen those $7.99 fleece throws at Sam’s Club? Ever wonder how they could sell ‘em so inexpensively? Well, now we’re onto another part of this puzzle. And now I’m gonna’ give you something to extrapolate. Later, we’ll see if we come up with the same conclusions. There was an AP article printed this morning at 6:11 a.m. This is the toothpaste scare again. … “On Monday, U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services Michael Leavitt said those problems had been raised at the ”highest levels” of China’s government, adding he believed China understood the economic risks involved.” …

    Whatever. Here’s the kicker, way down at the bottom of the story: … “However, a salesman for a Chinese trading company that imports the chemical [diethylene glycol] from Iran said it is occasionally be used to prevent toothpaste from drying out.” …

    Okay, baby, send it in. Not only do we not know where the heck General Mills is gettin’ its ingredients, but having traced one of the deadliest additives back to China… we now find out that the real source is IRAN. Now ain’t that a kick in the stick? Yes, the same stick, the short end of which, John Q. always seems to be hangin’ onto.

    Is there a seed germinatin’ in your mind? I hear you loud and clear. Meanwhile, let’s continue to frisk 18-month old toddlers … and their strollers … as part of airport security … while wavin’ poisoned food thru US Customs.

    What a superb environment our leaders have created for us and the next generation, eh? Did you notice, though, that in the end, the same question comes back to haunt us, every time we realize that we have been sold down the river in the name of free trade? What is that haunting question? The ubiquitous “Qui bono”? Henry Q.B. Paulson will be sittin’ down with China’s top trade negotiator, Vice Premier Wu Yi, in DC. Let’s see what Paulson’s efforts will yield besides concessions for the investment banks. Perhaps the more telling answer will be the response to “In exchange for what”?

    Whadda’ ya’ think of all this, eh? Once you compose yourself, you may want to join me in a laugh. Huh? What popped into my mind was the proposal of a federal tax on sugary soft drinks like Coke and Pepsi. See? Our legislators, a/k/a the nanny government, wanna’ make sure that we don’t get too chunky. My, how very thoughtful of them to watch our waistline. One would only hope that they would devote even a scintilla of this nitpicking attention to watching China’s waste line … as it flows onto US shores, into our factories and ultimately, onto our tables and across our backs.

    Ain’t life grand? Next case.

  2. Winston Munn commented on May 27

    I wonder if there is anyway we can elect Marie Antionette president, because as a thick-waisted American, all in all, I’d rather eat cake.

  3. Jim commented on May 27

    The Chinese govt encourages the cutting of corners on the products they sell. China sees nothing wrong in un ethical business practices. They not comply with any laws or regulation that get in the way of their goals. The communist party cheats, steals and copies anything it can to keep its people employed.

    Read this:

    The Coming China Wars:
    Where They Will Be Fought and How They Can Be Won.
    by Peter Navarro, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy
    University of California, Irvine

  4. Jim commented on May 27

    The Chinese govt encourages the cutting of corners on the products they sell. China sees nothing wrong in un ethical business practices. They not comply with any laws or regulation that get in the way of their goals. The communist party cheats, steals and copies anything it can to keep its people employed.

    Read this:

    The Coming China Wars:
    Where They Will Be Fought and How They Can Be Won.
    by Peter Navarro, Ph.D.
    Associate Professor of Economics and Public Policy
    University of California, Irvine

  5. Fiat Lux commented on May 27

    New FDA Food Pyramid

    This would be funny if it were not so true: hat tip, Ritholtz…

  6. Coruscation commented on May 27

    I thought the other two legs of the food pyramid were caffeine and alcohol.

  7. Estragon commented on May 27

    Obviously, this is an issue that needs to be taken seriously, but not only for the obvious reasons.

    The reality is that there are tons of food safety related problems. A recent list is here. Although many are related to the recent pet food thing, there are lots of domestic producers with issues too. For example, this salmonella contaminated tahini from a California company was apparently discovered by Canadian authorities. Then there’s the diesel fuel contaminated turnip greens from a South Carolina company. Heavy metal fish farms, e-coli tainted veggies, etc. Stuff happens.

    That more stuff happens in lesser developed countries isn’t all that surprising. Sad, but probably true.

    What’s interesting though is that the issue is gaining traction now, and specifically against China. This leads me to wonder:
    1. Is there a politically motivated push to get these particular food problems into the media?
    2. Is the public becoming more sensitive to such reports as they relate to China.

    My guess is both of the above are true to some degree. If so, the US and China are likely now on a collision course.

  8. mp commented on May 27

    “2. Is the public becoming more sensitive to such reports as they relate to China.”

    Duh. You see that picture of Barry’s dog on the right side ot this web page? Do you think Barry would become sensitive to reports of poisonous fish, toothpaste and cough syrup if his dog died from melamine poisoning like mine almost did?

    The Chinese are now processing poultry for U.S. consumption. Let’s say some birds with avian flu show up in your supermarket and a few dozen people die.

    Don’t you think you’d be more careful about what food you buy in the supermarket? This isn’t about flat panels, it’s about what you put into your gut.

  9. esb commented on May 27

    Estragon…

    “…the US and China are likely on a collision course.”

    Well then, ‘let a thousand mushrooms sprout.’

  10. Winston Munn commented on May 27

    1. Is there a politically motivated push to get these particular food problems into the media?
    2. Is the public becoming more sensitive to such reports as they relate to China.

    My guess is both of the above are true to some degree. If so, the US and China are likely now on a collision course.

    Estragon:

    Most likely you are entirely correct. I find the older I get the more cynical I get. I appreciate more Jesse Livermore’s claims of reading the newspaper with an eye toward grasping the untold reasons for the story’s publication in the first place.
    It’s like going through the looking glass, where nothing is what it seems – no wonder Livermore went nuts and killed himself.

    The only difference I see between then and now is it is not as difficult to grasp the reason for the spin – with fewer owners of mass media outlets it is enough to understand the politics of the owning entity to understand the spin behind the story.

  11. Estragon commented on May 27

    mp – “Let’s say some birds with avian flu show up in your supermarket and a few dozen people die”

    Bird flu is a serious problem, but the chicken I’m eating for dinner tonight has long since coughed his last. It’s my understanding that you get the flu when the airborn virus enters the lungs. My dinner presents no threat in that respect.

    The real threat is that the virus might mutate into a human-transmissible form, and that China may choose to suppress outside knowledge of the occurance. In terms of bird flu, I’d be more concerned about the recent announcement about adding airline capacity between the US and China.

  12. mp commented on May 27

    Estragon, Upton Sinclair was devastated by public reaction to his socialist novel, The Jungle. “I aimed at the public’s heart, and by accident I hit it in the stomach.”

    I don’t think you get it. The same thing is happening now. People are being hit in the gut. Some American author will go to China and write about the lack of food safety standards and putrid conditions in food processing plants there. Public aware of the conditions there will set off a firestorm in this country.

    We’re not talking about politics or hidden agendas. We’re talking about what people put into their mouthes.

  13. Estragon commented on May 27

    Winston Munn – agreed, though I also see a self-reinforcing polarization of ideology in mass media, and a reluctance to deal with complex topics in anything other than soundbites.

  14. Estragon commented on May 27

    mp – Have you read Fast Food Nation?

  15. mp commented on May 27

    No, Estragon, I haven’t read Fast Food Nation, but I have read reviews of it. But, you still don’t get it.

    The American public was sensitized by the pet food scandal, one of the largest recalls in American history. Thousands of family pets died and, next to apple pie, there isn’t anything more American than the family dog. When you screw with the family pet, you screw with its owner. People identify with their pets. They are, quite literally, members of the family.

    And that’s why a threshold has been crossed in public awareness. This isn’t going away.

  16. Winston Munn commented on May 27

    “I also see a self-reinforcing polarization of ideology in mass media, and a reluctance to deal with complex topics in anything other than soundbites.”

    Estragon: No doubt this is right and for a variety of reasons – the breakdown of delayed gratification and desire for instant gratification, the drive for coprorate profits versus the costs of real reporting, the diminishing educational levels and attention spans, the desire by viewers for emotional impact over substance, along with consolidation of ownership.

    The good news, though, is the growth of the internet as an information source – without this access, I really would hate to think where we would be.

  17. Eric commented on May 27

    I’d be more concerned about the recent announcement about adding airline capacity between the US and China.

    By the way, that’s the new phase of globalization: instead of moving the factories to the country where there’s cheap labor, now they will move the cheap labor to the country where there’s factories. Much cheaper to do it that way.

    http://elainemeinelsupkis.typepad.com/diplomacy/2007/05/the_chinese_win.html

  18. Estragon commented on May 27

    Winston Munn – “The good news, though, is the growth of the internet as an information source – without this access, I really would hate to think where we would be.”

    Amen to that.

  19. m3 commented on May 27

    I thought the other two legs of the food pyramid were caffeine and alcohol.

    that’s funny, i thought the two legs were partially hydrogenated soybean oil and high fructose corn syrup.

    after this post, i’m going organic. this is getting out of control.

  20. grodge commented on May 27

    Fast Food Nation is NOT an indictment of the fast food industry, but rather Schlosser showed how inept the FDA alone was at policing the food industry.

    The industry changed only after the Jack-in-the-Box deaths from e.coli prompted the fast food restaurants to demand clean meat from their suppliers.

    To this day, meat served in McDonald’s, BK and others are much safer than the ground meat bought in grocery stores where only the FDA stands between disease and your mouth.

    Many see Fast Food Nation as a liberal screed against the fast food industry, but I read it rather as a reinforcement of the power of the marketplace in providing safe food.

    China will need to learn that lesson as well. American companies will refuse to stake their reputations on suspect suppliers in China.

  21. Estragon commented on May 27

    grodge – I agree with your general sentiment. That said, there are (and likely always will be) problems in the food supply, and fast food is part of that supply. Taco Bell is a recent example.

    Market forces are certainly a big part of improving safety, but inspection, educations, and testing also have to play a role.

    MP’s point on the pet food thing capturing public attention is well taken. I suspect the focus on China is being driven, in part, by interests other than food safety alone though.

  22. D. commented on May 28

    North America:

    We are only reaping what we have soed for the last couple of decades!

    Wasn’t it obvious how all of this would turn out. Anyone who’s read a few history books knew it would come to this, including the surprise, anger and China bashing.

  23. John commented on May 28

    The focus on China comes from the corrupt American leaders who’ve bought off by Japan, the real source of our problems, with their .5% interest rates and purposely contrived domestic depression. (How does the #2 economy in the world, with the world’s largest trade surplus, have no economic growth? Just ponder that one a while.)

    We scream at China, who rightly tell us it’s not their fault, and do nothing about Japan, who is the real culprit. Why? Simple: our billionares are getting even richer with the way things are going right now. And our elected politicians are bought and paid for by the billionares in both America and Japan. Then there’s the appointed creeps like Paulson and Bernanke, who can be counted upon to act only in the best interests of the billionares.

    And I think to myself, What A Wonderful World.

  24. Dervin commented on May 28

    I’ve lived in HK for the last three years and we are only going to see more of this type of stuff.

    The question we will have to answer: What are we willing to give up for economic “progress”?

    And if the last 30 years are any indication, it’s only going to get worse. Any time we had to make that choice, we’ve chosen to reduce our own quality of life for the chance to make more money.

    Lenin had it backwards, we ain’t selling the rope, we’re buying it.

  25. Dervin commented on May 28

    I’ve lived in HK for the last three years and we are only going to see more of this type of stuff.

    The question we will have to answer: What are we willing to give up for economic “progress”?

    And if the last 30 years are any indication, it’s only going to get worse. Any time we had to make that choice, we’ve chosen to reduce our own quality of life for the chance to make more money.

    Lenin had it backwards, we ain’t selling the rope, we’re buying it.

  26. Winston Munn commented on May 28

    It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of reason, it was the age of foolishness…

    There is a distinct French flavor to these recent posts – more cake, anyone?

  27. wunsacon commented on Jun 3

    “Please, sir, I want some more.”

  28. Granite Yankee commented on Jun 3

    Why am I NOT suprised. This goes right along
    with Resident Shrub’s fight against testing
    all cows for BSE.

    God forbid, someone would want to spend a
    nickle on actually providing a safe food supply.

    That nickle belongs to the Corporate masters. Hands off.

  29. L’Emmerdeur commented on Jun 8

    Has anyone here ever seen the inside of a restaurant kitchen or storage in Chinatown? How about the oil slicks outside, where they dump their used cooking oil? They don’t even have the decency to dump it on someone else’s sidewalk like a smart scumbag would, they just dump it on their own.

    As a Greek, I know that my fellow country men in their 20s smell like deodorant and perfume, whereas those in their 60s are all sweat and tzatziki. We all come from filth, all cultures, all nationalities. But we evolved. Hopefully the Chinese will, too, before they kill us all. I’m not holding my breath – the ones who escaped from their crap hole cities in China to make a better life here have not equated abiding by laws and regulations, and maintaining sanitary, orderly environments at home and work with the better life they so desperately seek. They have turned their own homeland into a toxic waste dump, and unless they evolve soon, the countries to which they emigrate will become one big set for Bladerunner.

  30. Des commented on Jul 14

    I think there is really 2 side to these problems of substandard quality goods, if the buyers are truly concerned about quality they will give better prices etc, both sides have to be responsible

  31. Ustimenko commented on Mar 24

    Da food its lake me )

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