Just how safe are imports from China?

Following requests from officials in the United States, Chinese authorities are apparently now making closer checks on food exports.

Chinese exporters have been asked to register with the government and adopt other measures in an attempt to provide greater assurance on the safety of their products.

The requests come after a series of problems with Chinese exports which have resulted in toxic materials being found in toothpaste, fish and pet food.

In fact the list of potentially deadly products being exported to the U.S. and other countries seems to be growing on a weekly basis.

Food items such as proteins and glycerine must now be checked after a run of health scares involving tainted Chinese-made products and companies are now required to tell Chinese customs when they export or import glycerine, and have it inspected.

Concern has arisen following a number of pet deaths due to tainted wheat gluten and rice protein exported from China used in the animal feed; even more alarming is that toxins such as diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical used in engine coolants, has been found in tubes of Chinese-made toothpaste sold in Australia, the Dominican Republic and Panama.

The toothpaste was supposed to contain glycerine.

The latest set of problems began in March, with the imported pet food ingredients which were found to be spiked with the industrial chemical melamine and related compounds.

The scare prompted recalls of pet foods but the list includes dirty mushrooms, drug-laced frozen eel and juice made with unsafe color additives.

Five proteins, including casein which is used as a food binding agent, are also on the list, as are citric and tartaric acid, other widely used food additives, molasses, maple syrup and even ginger biscuits.

Chinese imports are more often stopped at the border by the Food and Drug Administration than any other country's and experts say the problem with China is getting bigger and is appearing in different realms.

The FDA has now stopped all imports of Chinese toothpaste and is warning consumers not to buy or eat imported fish labeled as monkfish because it might actually be pufferfish, which contains a potentially deadly toxin called tetrodotoxin.

The FDA says eating pufferfish that contains the potent toxin could result in serious illness or death.

According to the FDA, 282 22-pound boxes labeled as Chinese monkfish that was distributed to Illinois, California and Hawaii, has been recalled.

Food safety has become an increasingly high-profile issue between the United State and China, and China is now under intense international scrutiny regarding its exports.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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