1. FDA detains all dairy-based imports from China

    FDA detains all dairy-based imports from China

    Believe it or not, the FDA has finally issued an alert that will detain all Chinese products containing milk at the border, not allowing them to enter the country and go to market until they can be tested for traces of the toxic chemical melamine.

    Well, it's about time.

    Remember, last September more than 50,000 infants in China were sickened by melamine-tainted milk - and four of them died. "We're taking this action because it's the right thing to do for the public health," said the FDA's deputy associate commissioner Dr. Steven Solomon.

    Of course it is. It was the "right thing to do for the public health" last year, too, when the reports of toxic toys, deadly toothpaste, and corrupted pharmaceuticals first began to surface.

    Why now? What makes tainted milk more worthy of detention at the border than, say, the tainted blood thinner heparin, which wasassociatedwith the deaths of 81 Americans last summer?

    I'm not the only one who thinks that the FDA is a bit late to the party on this issue. Wenonah Hauter, the executive director of the consumer watchdog agency Food & Water Watch, says the new detention and testing system "does not do enough to ensure consumer safety, especially since melamine contamination in Chinese products continues to broaden."

    And Rep. Rosa DeLauro (D - Conn.) actually believes that the FDA's action to ban an entire category of food indicates "the problems involving melamine in China are significantly deeper than the FDA would have us believe."

    But I'm a firm believer in giving credit where credit is due, so I'm not about to come down too hard on the FDA when I've been calling for action for so long. .

    Will the ban be enough? Benjamin England, a former FDA attorney who now works for food supply companies, seems to think so. He things the ban will "jam the ports all the way up the supply chain." Once a product is placed on an FDA alert list, England says "it's impossible" to get off.

    I hope that what England says is true, and that more Chinese-made goods are put on the same kinds of alert lists as soon as possible.

  2. Deadly Chinese blood thinner found in 11 countries

    Deadly Chinese blood thinner found in 11 countries

    China is in the news all the time these days, mostly because of the media hype leading up to this year's summer Olympic games in Beijing. But what the Chinese government surely hoped would be a months-long love fest for the world's fastest-growing economy hasn't developed. Instead, an increase of access for the Western press has resulted in a torrent of news stories exposing China's shortcomings on the environment, human rights, and other issues.

    Personally, I'm happy about this. I think that the Chinese government has been allowed to slide for far too long. Too often, China's misdeeds are swept beneath the rug in the interest of trade or politics. There is a seemingly endless line of toxic and deadly goods (from toys to toothpaste) that are churned out by China's factories and foisted on American consumers. And yet, no matter how many times these dangerous goods are exposed, nothing seems to change - there's always another incident a few weeks later.

    And sad to say here we go again. But this time, it's not just Americans that are at risk.

    The FDA has warned a Chinese pharmaceutical manufacturer about contaminated heparin - a blood thinner that's been traced to one of their plants. This tainted blood thinner has been linked to 81 deaths in the U.S. and what's more, the FDA believes it's present in the drug supplies of 10 other countries.

    In total, federal regulators have identified a dozen Chinese companies that supplied these corrupted doses to Australia, Canada, Denmark, France, Germany, Italy, Japan, the Netherlands, New Zealand and, of course, China (the Chinese rarely discriminate with their deadly goods; in fact, it's likely that Chinese consumers get most of the dangerous Chinese goods because of their country's lax safety standards).

    According to the FDA, the contaminate in question is a "cheap fake additive" - oversulfated chondroitin sulfate - which can only be detected with sophisticated tests. And that's not all: U.S. inspectors also allege that the Chinese plants used unclean tanks during the manufacture of the drugs, incorporated raw materials from an "unacceptable" vendor, and had no process in place to remove impurities.

    And how do the Chinese respond to these allegations? Deny, deny, deny. According to a secretary of the Chinese embassy, "We don't have strong evidence to show that it is heparin or its contaminant that caused the problem." Incredible.

    The Chinese even had the unmitigated gall to insist that Chinese inspectors be allowed to inspect the U.S. pharmaceutical plant where the final stages of the drug's production took place! Talk about trying to put the victims on trial

    Unfortunately, our problems with China are just getting started.

    The 21st century could belong to the Chinese in the same way that the 20th century belonged to Americans. Because China floats on a veritable sea of cheap labor, they've been able transform their country from a backwater to a robust industrial giant in an incredibly short span of time. And, much like the growing United States of the 19th century, they are plowing forward without paying much attention to standards.

    I think the time has come for government agencies to do more than merely point out the many Chinese safety missteps. The time has come for a restriction on Chinese imports - ESPECIALLY pharmaceutical imports. When patients are DYING as a result of the poor hygiene standards in Asia, it's time for action.

    You know what's at work here: a profit motive. Chinese heparin is far less expensive than the American made variety, which is why Big Pharma is happy to import it. When Big Pharma spends less on making the drugs, they can pass the savings on to the consumer, right? HA! Just kidding - of course, any savings Big Pharma companies realize from the manufacturing of drugs only increases their profits.

    So what's an American consumer to do? If you ask me, I think it would be wise to purchase as few Chinese-made goods as possible. If you shop at Wal-Mart, this is nearly impossible. But at the very least, you should try to find out as much about the origin of the ingredients that are in any prescription drugs you take.

    As always, you are your own last line of defense. When it comes to drugs or anything you put in your body - stay away from the "Made in China" label.

  3. How will you be affected by the latest FDA mix-up?

    The good news is that FDA officials were in China to look into the safety of a Chinese- made drug that's found in heparin, a blood thinner made by Baxter International. The bad news? They actually evaluated the wrong factory.
  4. Chinese fire drill

    A mere quarter century after the mania of an AIDS epidemic sent everyone scrambling for their condoms and vowing ever-lasting monogamy, and yet it seems that no one in this country has learned their lesson: Sleeping around just isn't a healthy habit.

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