From China, With Love

Spiking theorized in pet deaths – Los Angeles Times

Chinese rice and wheat protein exports used in some recalled pet foods were artificially boosted with the addition of melamine, a known cause of kidney failure. The Chinese businesses involved aren’t answering questions and it is unclear that the Chinese government is going to do anything about it.

The single quote from the article that got my interest was:

The Chinese government has said that the contaminated wheat gluten was not meant for pet foods and therefore was not its regulatory responsibility.

What the heck did the Chinese government think that the contaminated wheat gluten was for, if not food of some sort?

Dealing with China seems to give us a trip back in time to those heady days of the late 19th century, when commercial interests made their profit in whatever way they could, without pesky interference in the form of government regulations. In particular, there was a reason that the USA enacted the Food and Drug Act, which was the clear and present danger of bad health outcomes from contaminated foods or drugs.

Adulteration and misbranding of foods and drugs had long been a fixture in the American cultural landscape, though the egregiousness of the problems seemed to have increased by the late 19th century (or at least they became more identifiable). By this time science had advanced significantly in its ability to detect this sort of fraud. Also, legitimate manufacturers were becoming more concerned that their trade would be undermined by purveyors of deceitful goods. Quinine-containing cinchona bark powder could be made less therapeutically effective–and much more profitable–by cutting it with just about anything, alum and clay masked poor wheat flour and thus netted a heftier return for the unethical company, and sufferers of any number of serious or self-limited diseases were relieved only of their finances by vendors of worthless nostrums. Even the so-called ethical drug firms were guilty of this practice.


As a pet food manufacturer in the linked story says, they’ll be avoiding Chinese suppliers in the future, or subjecting such sources to much closer scrutiny.

Wesley R. Elsberry

Falconer. Interdisciplinary researcher: biology and computer science. Data scientist in real estate and econometrics. Blogger. Speaker. Photographer. Husband. Christian. Activist.

One thought on “From China, With Love

  • 2007/04/25 at 12:12 pm

    Sometimes agricultural products ARE used for purposes other than human/animal consumption. For example, to control weeds I use a product that contains Maize Gluten Meal as its active ingredient. However, a responsibe seller would make it clear that the product was unfit for human/animal consumption.

    China treats its people like dirt and treats animals even worse. It’s no surprise that they are simply looking to make a fast buck selling contaminated products. I try not to buy anything from China, although many times it is impossible to find products that are NOT made in China!

Comments are closed.