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Are Chinese Products
Slowly Killing Us?

From Patricia Doyle, PhD

Hello Jeff - The product list below is not a complete list, it is only the tip of the iceberg. Let us not forget the faulty electric blankets, coffee pots, lead-painted toys, easy bake oven with fire hazard, dyes that contain toxic chemicals, toxic cellophane tape dispensers and many, many other products.
I worry about the deadly products that are on our store shelves and have not yet been identified as faulty.
Are Chinese Products Slowly Killing Us?
I commend the industriousness of the Chinese because that has made Chinese goods and services available around the world. Globally, China has become an economic power because it has succeeded in capturing the world market with its products. The Chinese reached such an economic power position through hard work, not through luck. In Ghana, almost every item on the market is "Made in China." Though it is an issue to worry about, this article is not about the fact that importing goods deprives Ghanaians existing and future jobs. It is about whether imported Chinese goods are slowly killing Ghanaians. I'll leave that to the reader to decide. Here, let's consider the record of some Chinese-made products...
In June 2004, Chinese authorities issued an emergency recall of a brand of milk powder after it sickened more than 150 schoolchildren. Children at three kindergartens in the southern province of Guizhou suffered vomiting, diarrhea and fever after drinking milk made from the powder, which contained staphylococcus bacteria. The product in question is Shanhua-brand milk powder produced by the Guiyang Sanlian Milk Company.
November 2004, a New York City company recalled two Chinese herbal supplements because they contained a carcinogen linked to kidney disease. Kingsway Trading Inc. of Brooklyn recalled its dietary pills, Double Deers Formula brand Expellin Extract (Concentrated) and Cardioflex. The company said it stopped distribution of these products when it was notified by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) that they contained aristolochic acid, a carcinogen and toxin found in plants that is associated with some cases of kidney failure and an increased risk of kidney cancer.
Then in December 2004, Starway Incorporated of U.S.A. recalled Red Diamond brand Dried Chinese Vegetable because the product contained undeclared sulfites. People who have severe sensitivity to sulfites run the risk of serious or life-threatening allergic reaction if they consume this product. Also in December, the FDA seized ginseng imported from China because of dangerous residues of pesticides.
In June 2005, the Food and Drug Administration placed restrictions on imports of Chinese shrimp, catfish, eel, basa and dace after finding residues of drugs the FDA does not allow in fish.
Then in December, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission announced a voluntary recall of about 144,000 plastic siren whistles manufactured in China. According to American authorities, the internal pieces of the recalled plastic siren whistle easily detached from the toy and posed a choking hazard to children. This was after the importer and distributor of the product received four reports of children choking and three reports of children swallowing pieces of the plastic siren whistle.
Again, in December 2005, Dell Computers recalled made-in-China batteries installed in about 22,000 notebook computers in the United States. The batteries were found to overheat, and posed fire risk. The recalled batteries were sold with the following Dell notebook computers: Latitude D410, D505, D510, D600, D610, D800, D810; Inspiron 510M, 600M, 6000, 8600, 9200, 9300, XPS Gen 2; and Dell Precision M20 and M70 mobile workstations.
Following the death of a girl in 2006, the Chinese government ordered a Chinese antibiotic manufacturer to recall its injectable antibiotic (clindamycin phosphate glucose). This was after it was discovered that it was the cause of death of a 6-year-old girl, and had caused over three dozen serious reactions in patients that received it. According to the Chinese authorities, the 6-year-old girl was given the antibiotic to treat a cold but she developed a fever, lapsed into a coma and died three days later.
In July 2006, Lexar Media Inc. of the U.S. recalled certain flash memory drives made in China because they could overheat and burn users or cause property damage. In a joint statement with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, Lexar said consumers should stop using the affected products immediately and to contact Lexar for a free replacement. The recall involved about 66,000 devices from Lexar's Jump Drive Fire Fly family of flash drives, and the metallic silver colored 1GB Jump Drive Secure II.
December 2006. Chinese authorities uncovered at least 180 Chinese factories that were using industrial chemicals in food production.
In Panama, at least 100 people died after taking cough syrup which contained diethylene glycol rather than the glycerine, which was supposed to have been used instead.
In March this year, many cats and dogs in the U.S. got sick after eating tainted pet food imported from China. The pet food products were found to contain Chinese wheat flour spiked with the chemical melamine to appear like expensive, and higher in protein.
In June, a Florida (USA) company issued a nationwide recall for toothpaste imported from China. The roughly 170,000 recalled toothpaste products had the contaminant diethylene glycol ­ a poisonous solvent used in antifreeze. The brands in question were Shir Fresh Mint Flouride, Shir Fresh Ice, Shir Mint Flouride and Shir Fresh Cool. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) identified many other Chinese-made toothpastes that were declared dangerous. Apart from the United States, New Zealand, Singapore, Spain, Panama and several other Latin American and Caribbean countries have taken Chinese-made toothpaste off the shelves for containing diethylene glycol.
Also in June, the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission as well as the Food and Drug Administration noted that toys, makeup, glazed pottery and other products imported from China contained significant amounts of lead. Lead poisoning can cause learning disabilities, kidney failure, anemia and irreversible brain damage in children. Because of lead contamination, the Consumer Product Safety Commission recalled several children's items and/or toys all imported from China. In addition, children's gardening gloves imported from China were found to have a stamp-painted logo on the backside containing high levels of lead. Children's turquoise rings imported from China were also found to have high lead levels. These were not all; about 200,000 children's necklaces, bracelets and rings imported from China were found to contain high lead levels. And about 5,000 bamboo game sets called "Anima" were found to contain lead paint.
Again in June this year, Chinese officials admitted that formaldehyde, illegal dyes and industrial wax were used to make candy, pickles, crackers and seafood. This was followed by a warning from the FDA about eye shadow imported from China. Called "kohl," it is used to create black lines around the eyes. Not only has the makeup been found to contain high lead levels, eight brands of Chinese kohl were halted by the FDA because of microbiological contamination. In addition, the Center for Disease Control and Prevention found bacterial parasites in contact lens solution imported from China. At least 21 people developed eye conditions as a result of using Complete Moisture Plus, the contact lens solution.
And the list goes on. One thousand and two hundred (1,200) Raleigh Cadent bicycles with carbonage carbon forks, manufactured in China were also pulled off the market in 2007. This is because the forks broke during use, causing the rider to lose control, fall and suffer injuries. By the time of recall, Raleigh America had received three reports of forks breaking, resulting in injuries, including a dislocated shoulder, a concussion and a broken jaw. The recall included the 2007 Raleigh Cadent 1.0, Cadent 2.0 and Cadent Carbon bicycle models with carbon forks.
Again, this year, 450,000 tires made in China have been pulled off the American market because the tires were missing safety features that keep the tire tread from separating.
Frozen fish imported from China into the United States was labeled monkfish but it was pufferfish that contained tetrodotoxin. Eating foods containing tetrodotoxin can result in life-threatening illness or death and the toxin cannot be destroyed by cooking or freezing.
It appears contamination associated with Chinese products gets worse yearly. It therefore means that we should be very careful about the products we import from China. Since there are many made-in-China products in Ghana, and since Ghana has never recalled or removed any China-made products from the market, does it mean the Chinese love us so much so that they send only first class non-contaminated products to Ghana? Or does it mean that the Ghana Standards Board, the regulatory body, is not doing its work? Or does it mean that Chinese products are slowly killing us?
On August 10 this year, the Ghana Standards Board, launched its 40th anniversary celebration at a colorful ceremony at the Board's premises. The theme for the celebration was "GSB @40 Setting the Pace for Standards and Quality." Is this public body really ensuring standards? Or is it one of the many lame ducks in our midst? By the way, who should protect the average Ghanaian against unwholesome products ­ the government, GSB, the Ghanaian importer, or the average Ghanaian themselves?
In conclusion, I have to mention that Chinese officials have moved to show they are taking the concerns seriously. Recently, China executed a former drug and food safety chief for corruption. In recent weeks, China announced that it had closed down 180 food manufacturers that were found to have used industrial chemicals and additives in their products. However, personally, I don't think the Chinese government is doing enough to stop polluting the world with contaminated products. Therefore, WE HAVE TO PROTECT OURSELVES!
Dr. Kwaku Obosu-Mensah
Associate Professor of Sociology, Lorain County Community College, USA
Patricia A. Doyle DVM, PhD
Bus Admin, Tropical Agricultural Economics
Univ of West Indies
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Zhan le Devlesa tai sastimasa
Go with God and in Good Health


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