Glow-In-The-Dark Pork And More: China’s Nauseating Food Woes

china-beef-extract-04-300x200Fake soy sauce flavored with hair salon clippings? Fake eggs implanted in fake eggshells? Amazingly, it gets worse in this Los Angeles Times piece on China’s fast-ballooning food safety issues. Never have I been so thankful for the FDA:

If anything, China’s food scandals are becoming increasingly frequent and bizarre.

In May, a Shanghai woman who had left uncooked pork on her kitchen table woke up in the middle of the night and noticed that the meat was emitting a blue light, like something out of a science fiction movie. Experts pointed to phosphorescent bacteria, blamed for another case of glow-in-the-dark pork last year.

Farmers in eastern Jiangsu province complained to state media last month that their watermelons had exploded “like landmines” after they mistakenly applied too much growth hormone in hopes of increasing their size.

“The profit margin is bigger than drug trafficking if you add the lean pork powder to the pig food,” said Zhou Qing, an author and dissident, who has styled himself as China’s equivalent of Upton Sinclair.

In 2006, Zhou published a book about the Chinese food industry that would extinguish the heartiest appetite. He wrote about foods tainted with pesticides, industrial salts, bleaches, paints and, especially nauseating, imitation soy sauce made from clippings swept up from hairdressers’ floors, sold for 5 cents per pound and sent to factories that extract from it an amino acid solution. Zhou wrote that fish farmers confessed to pouring so many antibiotics and hormones into their ponds that “they never eat the fish that they farm.”

Although Zhou’s book has been published in 10 countries — it sold 50,000 copies in Japan alone — it is not available in China. After failing to get the book in shops, receiving threats from police and getting beaten up by thugs, Zhou left China in 2008. He now lives in Germany.

Even victims are punished if they complain too loudly. Zhao Lianhai, an advertising executive who led a campaign for safer baby formula after his son developed kidney stones as a result of the melamine-tainted baby formula, was sentenced in November to 2 1/2 years in prison for “inciting social disorder.”

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  • MoralDrift

    This is what happens when you allow a market economy to grow without first establishing the rule of law and effective regulations. One of China’s greatest problems is that it is an authoritarian state, without a whole lot of respect for the rule of law among really anyone in China.

    • DeepCough

      Actually, it’s not so much rule of law that ensures safety and welfare in a nation as the notion of human rights, of which there are none to be found in China at this point in its development, because rule of law can be used to deprive you of your rights (e.g. PATRIOT Act), which is why the U.S. Constitution came attached with Amendments that limited government tyranny by enfranchising people with the right to redress government authority when it went out of bounds (of course, the U.S. federal government has gone so out of bounds, it breached the fucking stratosphere).

      • MoralDrift

        I agree in principle but one could argue that the PATRIOT act is in itself in violation of the Constitution. Human rights sound fine and good but without a decent court system and a general belief that the law and the courts are valid, then you will have unsafe business practices and worse. This problem extends much further than food safety and permeates the Chinese economy, corruption. It is a unique style of corruption, years of socialist modes of production and thousands of years of cultural tradition have led to informal networks of business based on “guanxi”. This also happened in the USSR and was known as “blat”. The major difference is that while the USSR descended into a blatant mobster cash grab China has maintained the old structure of control while allowing the market to begin making decisions. This has led to rapid growth with massive corruption at the local levels.

        Until China can reign in this corruption, and the only way is to instill a healthy respect for the law, human rights will be a mere pipe dream as they are unenforceable in a society held together by informal networks of business and now, the profit motive.

        • DeepCough

          Agreed. China is just going to have to go through the same thing the United States did before it comes to the conclusion that food safety is just important to the economy as everything else is.

  • Anonymous

    This is what happens when you allow a market economy to grow without first establishing the rule of law and effective regulations. One of China’s greatest problems is that it is an authoritarian state, without a whole lot of respect for the rule of law among really anyone in China.

  • Chinese chicken

    Yeah we made a good job of making the rest of the world feel worthless unless they live like us or try to. And this is what happens.  They dont even build in kool oriental style anymore just square buildings no one likes to live in because it creates a different class of people and the communist Chinese are not into that. 

  • Chinese chicken

    Yeah we made a good job of making the rest of the world feel worthless unless they live like us or try to. And this is what happens.  They dont even build in kool oriental style anymore just square buildings no one likes to live in because it creates a different class of people and the communist Chinese are not into that. 

  • justagirl

    um…  that’s not pork.

     http://www.todayifoundout.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/glow-in-the-dark-cats.png

  • justagirl

    um…  that’s not pork.

     http://www.todayifoundout.com/wp-content/uploads/2010/01/glow-in-the-dark-cats.png

  • emc_0

    “Never have I been so thankful for the FDA”

    Why? The information about bad food/drink products would spread quickly and the consumers would be the ones to regulate it, by not buying the product. The FDA is unnecessary.

    • Godozo

      Assuming the consumers would be able to find out about the stuff. Which requires a government willing to watch over the food supply…and a press willing to report on stuff.

      Interesting that we had trust in our food before the USA gutted its government…and the press was herded into FOX’s henhouse.

      Yes, I’m thankful for the FDA…even in its present state, where it’s shadow is still able to keep food companies from doing what China’s food companies do.

  • Anonymous

    “Never have I been so thankful for the FDA”

    Why? The information about bad food/drink products would spread quickly and the consumers would be the ones to regulate it, by not buying the product. The FDA is unnecessary.

  • hunter349

    I’m sure the free market will take care of all their problems. I for one can’t wait until we get rid of the FDA and I can play the guessing game about my foods possible lethality. Nothing gives you greater comfort than knowing  that the free market will avenge your death ( and most likely dozens of others) by forcing the manufacturer to take on an aggressive re-branding strategy.

    Besides it was my fault for not being personally responsible. You should always leave food products on the counter overnight checking every few hours to see if it starts glowing.

  • Anonymous

    I’m sure the free market will take care of all their problems. I for one can’t wait until we get rid of the FDA and I can play the guessing game about my foods possible lethality. Nothing gives you greater comfort than knowing  that the free market will avenge your death ( and most likely dozens of others) by forcing the manufacturer to take on an aggressive re-branding strategy.

    Besides it was my fault for not being personally responsible. You should always leave food products on the counter overnight checking every few hours to see if it starts glowing.

  • Rex Vestri

    “Never have I been so thankful for the FDA”

    If the Repugnicans (and all the little brainwashed sheeple programmed by FOX “News” Channel) had their way there would be no FDA. Or EPA, or any other regulatory agency for that matter. They’d let the free market police itself, which as hunter349 eloquently points out (using sarcasm), would be a disaster for consumers.

    The FDA definitely ain’t perfect, but without it we’d be fucked.

  • Rex Vestri

    “Never have I been so thankful for the FDA”

    If the Repugnicans (and all the little brainwashed sheeple programmed by FOX “News” Channel to support ideas that are completely counter to their own best interests) had their way there would be no FDA. Or EPA. Or any other regulatory agency for that matter. They’d let the free market police itself, which as hunter349 eloquently points out (using sarcasm), would be a disaster for consumers.

    The FDA definitely ain’t perfect, but without it we’d be fucked.

    • DeepCough

      We’re already fucked: you see, the free market is regulating itself, it’s just that it’s buying off personnel in government charged with industrial regulation so that the free market may take care of its errors–for its own benefit and no one else–without so much as a hint of government oversight. You’ll notice how the FDA and DEA dance only to the tune of what the pharmaceutical companies want.

  • Taterhead

    China wiped out all religious and non Marxist / Maoist philosophies in the “Cultural Revolution”.
    Now they are the most amoral heathens on Earth next to reptiles. They worship Gold and Power and next they yearn to have a billion cars on their roads so they can have their version of the US’s 50′s. We will be choking on their global covering of smog. Nixon…..Burn in Hell forever!

  • Taterhead

    China wiped out all religious and non Marxist / Maoist philosophies in the “Cultural Revolution”.
    Now they are the most amoral heathens on Earth next to reptiles. They worship Gold and Power and next they yearn to have a billion cars on their roads so they can have their version of the US’s 50′s. We will be choking on their global covering of smog. Nixon…..Burn in Hell forever!

    • Hadrian999

      because religious countries are bastions of ethics and morality……….

    • Jin The Ninja

      if you ACTUALLY believe there are ANY marxists left in china spouting pro-union, pro-worker rhetoric, then you sir, are living under a very LARGE rock.

      There has actually been a resurgence in buddhism, specifically pure land. Which is traditionally and contemporaneously the denomination of the working class. 

      Yes, it has and continues to be a feature of chinese culture- that the pursuit of worldly wealth is thought of as high minded. But i would say no less so than contemporary western culture. after all we make millionaires of airheads, sex tape performers, and dumb jocks everyday while glorifying their behaviour.

      Mao, himself, acknowledged that he had taken a leninist route to state capitalism.  As Lenin had before him. Mao was very enamoured with the west, and with modernisation. Something he learned in Europe. he saw this through  the lens of european history and colonialism. Althought without the sort of critical discourse one would expect from a tried and true leftist (and thus humanist Not to mention, directly following the chinese civil war the marxists, anarchists, and unionists were purged by mao from the ruling communist party. And when i say “purged” i dont mean he sent them a letter informing them to return their red books. Deng Xiao Peng, codified and solidified, the amoral totalitarianism into a kind of free market paradise. 

      Noam Chomsky, an anarcho-syndicalist, has undertaken several critiques of the global discourse regarding “communism.” I suggest you to start there. As well, Arif Dirlick, a very prominent China scholar has several books on Mao and chinese state capitalism, in which he throughly critiques and disabuses any notion of marxist intention in mao or any of his successors.

      You may denigrate the chinese, but i believe you should first acknowledge the people whom the chinese themselves emulate: Americans. as well as their reigning cultural and national philosophy: capitalism.

  • Second Violin

    Folks, I hate to break it to you, but actually the FDA is really *not* protecting us from poisonous food from China (or anywhere else).  Its funding has been gradually eroding for the last several years.  Read the 2007 NYT article “From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine” or economist Pat Choate’s book “Dangerous Business” about the problems of globalization.  (The fact content of this post is taken from Mr. Choate’s excellent book.)

    Between 1999 and 2007, food imports to the U.S. increased 50%. During that time, the FDA lab checks for those imports went from 4% to 1%. 

    When foreign shipments are flagged, they are sent back, not destroyed — so it is regular practice for foreign companies (or, far more likely, U.S.-based companies with foreign divisions) to simply re-ship the returned food.  After all, there’s a 99% chance it will get through the second time.  Why is this allowed to happen?  Because we export to these markets, and if we don’t tolerate poisonous imports, our exports are blocked.  When the import of contaminated Chinese seafood was blocked in 2007, there was an immediate Chinese reprisal, blocking exports of chicken (Tyson) and pork (Cargill).

    And so it goes…  Welcome to the glories of 21st century globalization.  The neo-liberals (Clinton) either didn’t think this through, or didn’t care (“Let them eat foreign imports; I have my maid buy our groceries at Whole Foods…”)

    To the inveterate libertarians who read this blog: government is NOT inherently evil, nor is it always “the problem”.  Government is created to solve problems.  We, as Americans, created the FDA to protect public health and safety.  Like any human organization, it is imperfect — inefficient, sometimes stupid, etc.  But it’s what we have.  And in a world of Darwin Free Trade Zone capitalism, it is our fast-eroding bulwark against pet food imported from China (via Canada) full of melamine, an industrial non-food additive that causes our pets to die from toxic kidney failure.  We need the FDA — otherwise, we will end up like China, with babies drinking contaminated formula that gives them kidney stones…

    Now everyone pick up your instruments and keep playing “Nearer My God To Three”…

  • Second Violin

    Folks, I hate to break it to you, but actually the FDA is really *not* protecting us from poisonous food from China (or anywhere else).  Its funding has been gradually eroding for the last several years.  Read the 2007 NYT article “From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine” or economist Pat Choate’s book “Dangerous Business” about the problems of globalization.  (The fact content of this post is taken from Mr. Choate’s excellent book.)

    Between 1999 and 2007, food imports to the U.S. increased 50%. During that time, the FDA lab checks for those imports went from 4% to 1%. 

    When foreign shipments are flagged, they are sent back, not destroyed — so it is regular practice for foreign companies (or, far more likely, U.S.-based companies with foreign divisions) to simply re-ship the returned food.  After all, there’s a 99% chance it will get through the second time.  Why is this allowed to happen?  Because we export to these markets, and if we don’t tolerate poisonous imports, our exports are blocked.  When the import of contaminated Chinese seafood was blocked in 2007, there was an immediate Chinese reprisal, blocking exports of chicken (Tyson) and pork (Cargill).

    And so it goes…  Welcome to the glories of 21st century globalization.  The neo-liberals (Clinton) either didn’t think this through, or didn’t care (“Let them eat foreign imports; I have my maid buy our groceries at Whole Foods…”)

    To the inveterate libertarians who read this blog: government is NOT inherently evil, nor is it always “the problem”.  Government is created to solve problems.  We, as Americans, created the FDA to protect public health and safety.  Like any human organization, it is imperfect — inefficient, sometimes stupid, etc.  But it’s what we have.  And in a world of Darwin Free Trade Zone capitalism, it is our fast-eroding bulwark against pet food imported from China (via Canada) full of melamine, an industrial non-food additive that causes our pets to die from toxic kidney failure.  We need the FDA — otherwise, we will end up like China, with babies drinking contaminated formula that gives them kidney stones…

    Now everyone pick up your instruments and keep playing “Nearer My God To Three”…

  • Hadrian999

    because religious countries are bastions of ethics and morality……….

  • http://buzzcoastin.posterous.com BuzzCoastin

    The effect of money and the lust it creates in humans is always underestimated and therefore makes news.  While the Chinese may be tainting their food for profit, the Japanese created a nuclear disaster for a similar reason.  The US gov allows oil companies to pollute the Gulf of Mexico for similar reasons.  GMO food in the US is worse than China.

    The harder part of this story is to realize that its not just the Chinese who are screwing themselves for a profit. 

  • BuzzCoastin

    The effect of money and the lust it creates in humans is always underestimated and therefore makes news.  While the Chinese may be tainting their food for profit, the Japanese created a nuclear disaster for a similar reason.  The US gov allows oil companies to pollute the Gulf of Mexico for similar reasons.  GMO food in the US is worse than China.

    The harder part of this story is to realize that its not just the Chinese who are screwing themselves for a profit. 

  • DeepCough

    Actually, it’s not so much rule of law that ensures safety and welfare in a nation as the notion of human rights, of which there are none to be found in China at this point in its development, because rule of law can be used to deprive you of your rights (e.g. PATRIOT Act), which is why the U.S. Constitution came attached with Amendments that limited government tyranny by enfranchising people with the right to redress government authority when it went out of bounds (of course, the U.S. federal government has gone so out of bounds, it breached the fucking stratosphere).

  • DeepCough

    We’re already fucked: you see, the free market is regulating itself, it’s just that it’s buying off personnel in government charged with industrial regulation so that the free market may take care of its errors–for its own benefit and no one else–without so much as a hint of government oversight. You’ll notice how the FDA and DEA dance only to the tune of what the pharmaceutical companies want.

  • Anonymous

    I agree in principle but one could argue that the PATRIOT act is in itself in violation of the Constitution. Human rights sound fine and good but without a decent court system and a general belief that the law and the courts are valid, then you will have unsafe business practices and worse. This problem extends much further than food safety and permeates the Chinese economy, corruption. It is a unique style of corruption, years of socialist modes of production and thousands of years of cultural tradition have led to informal networks of business based on “guanxi”. This also happened in the USSR and was known as “blat”. The major difference is that while the USSR descended into a blatant mobster cash grab China has maintained the old structure of control while allowing the market to begin making decisions. This has led to rapid growth with massive corruption at the local levels.

    Until China can reign in this corruption, and the only way is to instill a healthy respect for the law, human rights will be a mere pipe dream as they are unenforceable in a society held together by informal networks of business and now, the profit motive.

  • Gasface

    Wow, the Chinese really do eat anything.

  • Gasface

    Wow, the Chinese really do eat anything.

  • Godozo

    Assuming the consumers would be able to find out about the stuff. Which requires a government willing to watch over the food supply…and a press willing to report on stuff.

    Interesting that we had trust in our food before the USA gutted its government…and the press was herded into FOX’s henhouse.

    Yes, I’m thankful for the FDA…even in its present state, where it’s shadow is still able to keep food companies from doing what China’s food companies do.

  • http://profiles.google.com/saintzedofourlostyouth R Z

    if you ACTUALLY believe there are ANY marxists left in china spouting pro-union, pro-worker rhetoric, then you sir, are living under a very LARGE rock.

    There has actually been a resurgence in buddhism, specifically pure land. Which is traditionally and contemporaneously the denomination of the working class. 

    Yes, it has and continues to be a feature of chinese culture- that the pursuit of worldly wealth is thought of as high minded. But i would say no less so than contemporary western culture. after all we make millionaires of airheads, sex tape performers, and dumb jocks everyday while glorifying their behaviour.

    Mao, himself, acknowledged that he had taken a leninist route to state capitalism.  As Lenin had before him. Mao was very enamoured with the west, and with modernisation. Something he learned in Europe. he saw this through  the lens of european history and colonialism. Althought without the sort of critical discourse one would expect from a tried and true leftist (and thus humanist). Deng Xiao Peng, codified and solidified, the amoral totalitarianism into a kind of free market paradise. 

    Noam Chomsky, an anarcho-syndicalist, has undertaken several critiques of the global discourse regarding “communism.” I suggest you to start there. As well, Arif Dirlick, a very prominent China scholar has several books on Mao and chinese state capitalism, in which he throughly critiques and disabuses any notion of marxist intention in mao or any of his successors.

    You may denigrate the chinese, but i believe you should first acknowledge the people whom the chinese themselves emulate: Americans. as well as their reigning cultural and national philosophy: capitalism.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Take away all the bells and whistles and arguments about China’s politics vs America’s politics…and they aren’t a damn bit different than the US prior to the heavy regulating of the food industry…except that there are more of them. Corruption is only fostered by a system where the whims of party leaders are more important than the needs or wants of people. The undue influence the corrupt experience, just like ours, is rooted in the ability the newly wealthy and super wealthy have to fling bales of cash at them…and the lack of accountability is nearly identical to our own because while the Chinese may be governed by a socialist bureaucracy…it is a monolithic system answerable only to itself…and then only when its conduct has endangered its own existence. Ask ourselves how highminded and and great the speeches about ‘deregulation’ really are…after you’ve spent a few years eating the food that caused your great grandads to agitate and vote for regulation. I may hold China’s business choices in contempt…but I hold the same for contempt for the choices we’ve been making here in the US…sliding backwards into Upton Sinclairs “The Jungle”…in the repackaged and freshly marketed ‘struggle’ to be freer from regulation and accountability. Does gravel in the bread taste free? or sawdust sausage filler? or melamine milk and plastic rice? Oddly…it is a taste of a certain limited freedom…the freedom of business to commit fraud and poison people. Only vigorous regulation…with extreme consequences…can keep business in check…and people safe from at least the majority of exploitative possibilities. It isn’t perfect and no one thinks its a ticket to paradise…but we’ve already been the other way…there’s no need to go back.

  • http://voxmagi-necessarywords.blogspot.com/ VoxMagi

    Take away all the bells and whistles and arguments about China’s politics vs America’s politics…and they aren’t a damn bit different than the US prior to the heavy regulating of the food industry…except that there are more of them. Corruption is only fostered by a system where the whims of party leaders are more important than the needs or wants of people. The undue influence the corrupt experience, just like ours, is rooted in the ability the newly wealthy and super wealthy have to fling bales of cash at them…and the lack of accountability is nearly identical to our own because while the Chinese may be governed by a socialist bureaucracy…it is a monolithic system answerable only to itself…and then only when its conduct has endangered its own existence. Ask ourselves how highminded and and great the speeches about ‘deregulation’ really are…after you’ve spent a few years eating the food that caused your great grandads to agitate and vote for regulation. I may hold China’s business choices in contempt…but I hold the same for contempt for the choices we’ve been making here in the US…sliding backwards into Upton Sinclairs “The Jungle”…in the repackaged and freshly marketed ‘struggle’ to be freer from regulation and accountability. Does gravel in the bread taste free? or sawdust sausage filler? or melamine milk and plastic rice? Oddly…it is a taste of a certain limited freedom…the freedom of business to commit fraud and poison people. Only vigorous regulation…with extreme consequences…can keep business in check…and people safe from at least the majority of exploitative possibilities. It isn’t perfect and no one thinks its a ticket to paradise…but we’ve already been the other way…there’s no need to go back.

  • Anonymous

    You don’t understand… I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it happening. They’re making our food out of people. Soon, they’ll be breeding us like cattle for food! You gotta tell ‘em! It’s people! It’s made from people!

  • SF2K01

    You don’t understand… I’ve seen it. I’ve seen it happening. They’re making our food out of people. Soon, they’ll be breeding us like cattle for food! You gotta tell ‘em! It’s people! It’s made from people!

  • DeepCough

    Agreed. China is just going to have to go through the same thing the United States did before it comes to the conclusion that food safety is just important to the economy as everything else is.

  • greengestalt

    Look up a cool site, Chinasmack…

    My fav is the pigs feeding on the garbage dump and I mean what Chinese throw away.  And they are all diseased and covered with sores.  Wonder if they eat them in China?  Whoop!  Wonder if WE eat them in AMERICA?  Brought over here on a plane but then “Tax Break / Subsidy” makes sure it’s less than a real pork farmer could charge it for…

    Heh, it’s public domain now I think, perhaps they should translate Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” into Chinese???

    Gawdz, Marx should have been a Chinaman ala a “Yellow Peril” pulp fiction stereotype:

    “FLom Each aKKolding Tu He AbiRity, Tu Each AkkoLding Tu He need!”

  • Anonymous

    Look up a cool site, Chinasmack…

    My fav is the pigs feeding on the garbage dump and I mean what Chinese throw away.  And they are all diseased and covered with sores.  Wonder if they eat them in China?  Whoop!  Wonder if WE eat them in AMERICA?  Brought over here on a plane but then “Tax Break / Subsidy” makes sure it’s less than a real pork farmer could charge it for…

    Heh, it’s public domain now I think, perhaps they should translate Upton Sinclair’s “The Jungle” into Chinese???

    Gawdz, Marx should have been a Chinaman ala a “Yellow Peril” pulp fiction stereotype:

    “FLom Each aKKolding Tu He AbiRity, Tu Each AkkoLding Tu He need!”