As far as food safety goes, things aren't getting much better in China.
So says a report in Forbes magazine.
The article warns that a new strain of avian flu, H10N8, has turned up
in chickens in China, forcing the slaughter of 20,000 birds in Hong Kong
alone. More alarming: The strain has jumped to humans, who can become
infected if they eat infected birds or are around them.
A 73-year old Chinese woman died in December from the strain and a 55-year-old woman was recently hospitalized, Forbes said.
A virologist from the Chinese Center for
Disease Control in Beijing, who was quoted in the Chinese medical
journal, The Lancet, warned this week about the potential for a pandemic.
This is China’s fifth avian influenza strain to emerge in the last 17
years and the latest of its food safety woes. In 2008, melamime-tainted
milk killed six children in China and hospitalized tens of thousands.
Melamine, which is used in plastics and pesticides, can cause kidney
failure. Pet food, which contained melamine-laced wheat gluten from
China, killed scores of dogs and some cats in North America in 2007.
Dial to the present and a new threat is on the horizon, critics say.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture is preparing to allow poultry raised
in the U.S. to be shipped to China, turned into chicken nuggets or some
other processed food, and then shipped back to the U.S. for consumption.
The product labeling would not alert consumers either.
If that's not enough to worry about -- and we do worry here in food safety central -- the Center for Food Safety
has just launched a campaign to stop Dow Chemical from putting
so-called "Agent Orange" GMO crops on the market, according to a story
in Food Poisoning Bulletin.
The center is worried that the USDA will approve genetically
engineered crops doused in 2,4-D, a powerful
herbicide that formed one half of Agent Orange. The compound was used by
the U.S. government during the Vietnam War to defoliate forested and
rural land, depriving guerrillas of cover. It had devastating effects on
the locals and U.S. troops.
Finally, the Center for Science in the Public Interest has a campaign
of its own -- against a dough conditioner called azodicarbonamide,
according to a story on Food Navigator.
The additive is used to make dough smoother, but critics worry it could
cause health problems. In its industrial form, which is chemically
identical to the food-grade form, it's used in the production of foam
plastics like shoe soles and exercise mats, the report says.
Apparently, Subway is phasing it out.
That's it for today. Keep your appetite and safe eating.
-- Lynne Terry