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Chinese Food Imports Under Close Scrutiny


It started with the brouhaha over pet food, but now the safety of a whole range of food products imported from China are coming under the microscope, according to a news article posted on the consumer watchdog website. According to this article, a new study published in Environmental Toxicology and Chemistry found samples from Chinese markets that contained concentrations of contaminants high enough to pose threats to human health.

This is an important detail because China has now become the world’s largest producer and exporter of fish and fish products. Organochlorine pesticides such as DDT, which were officially banned in 1983, have been used in China for decades prior to the ban. Twenty-five years later, there is evidence that new sources, particularly of DDT, may be present and contaminating seafood, researchers say. The most recent study focused on seafood from markets in 11 coastal cities in Guangdong Province.

These highest concentrations were observed in mollusks, specifically oysters, mussels, and squid. Concentrations of DDT in some of this seafood were high enough to pose human health threats. Other Organochlorine pesticides present were at concentrations high enough to pose human cancer risks. The study’s researchers said further research was urgently required to identify the new sources of Organochlorine pesticide contamination, so the food safety issues could be dealt with. China exports 3.2 million metric tons of seafood products, which is 10 percent of the global export volume. Exports primarily go to Japan, Korea, Canada, the United States, and the European Union.

It is clear that our federal safety agencies have little or no control over imported produce, meat and seafood. The safety standards that apply to local food products must be uniformly applied to imports – be it cantaloupes or crabs. The recent outbreaks of E. Coli in leafy greens and salmonella from contaminated peanut butter, which sickened thousands across the nation and even claimed a few lives, shows us how serious the issue of food safety and food-borne illnesses can be. We have also been reminded of the vulnerability of our regulatory and inspection agencies and have learned how few resources are allocated to ensure that the food we put in our mouths is safe enough to be there.

Failing stringent standards for local and imported food, these outbreaks will only start getting bigger, more lethal and far more widespread. Our agencies should wake up and start putting in the necessary controls before things get so out of hand that we can’t do anything about it.

If you have been sickened by a food-borne illness, call Bisnar Chase Personal Injury Attorneys  at 1-800-259-6373, to find out about your legal options.

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