Saturday, November 1, 2008

Melamine On A Plate Near You?

What won't we stop at in the pursuit of cheap food?

Experts are now worried that melamine, a "toxic industrial chemical," may have been used in a wide spectrum of Chinese-produced foods shipped to consumers across the world.

Recap: food and chemical industry folks in China have been found to have knowingly included melamine as a protein-booster in pet food and in feed for dairy cows. While scientists can't fully explain why, the chemical can cause kidney failure - oh, and death - in humans and pets.

At minimum these actions were morally bankrupt. But does it stop there?

Apparently not. According to the New York Times article (free subscription required), local officials are said to have commented that melamine "has been used for years in fish feed." Now, there are investigations into whether it's also being used to supplement feed for livestock including pigs and chicken. And in vitamins.

Okay, that means I've probably eaten melamine-laced food from China. You, too.

Now, I suppose it's possible that the source of this information is not unbiased. For instance, maybe some other food company would benefit if the spigot of cheap food from China were turned off or slowed.

And if you talk to enough people in the meat production industry in North America you know that lots of disturbing things go into animal feed here in a desperate attempt to keep prices low.

But I for one have stopped buying any food items from China. That is, at least I think I have. Come to think of it, manufacturers are not required to list the source of the multitude of ingredients that go into our packaged goods and probably livestock feed, too.

At minimum, no more edamame (that's right, look at the label).

Know what's on your plate.

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