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If a product is unsafe it should be recalled, according to White House spokesman Tony Snow. But he apparently doesn’t believe there’s any need for any further crackdowns on defective imports, even if they seem to be flooding the country.
His comments were in response to Les Kinsolving, WND’s correspondent at the White House, who asked a question following a series of WND reports about a wide range of contaminated or defective Chinese products delivered to customers in the United States.
Those reports, so far, have documented poisoned pet food, seafood unfit for human consumption because it was produced in sewage-contaminated water, toys and fireworks that were dangerous, electrical products that failed to meet safety standards, even honey that had been tainted with a potentially life-threatening antibiotic.
“In just the past few weeks, there have been reports of China-made toys being recalled because of dangers of lead paint, China-produced food with contaminants, and even China-produced honey laced with a drug. And now it’s being reported that Chinese-made tires are probably faulty and dangerous. What is being done to crack down on what appears to be a concerted effort to dump damaging or dangerous Chinese products on the American public?” Kinsolving asked.
“Well, those are your conclusions,” Snow responded. Then when Kinsolving explained the issue has been raised in several media reports, Snow continued:
“Yes, it is. Yes, it is. … What you have done is you have insinuated a conspiracy to dump these things on the American marketplace. Obviously, when you have problems with the safety of things, you deal with it, including the recall of 450,000 tires,” he said.
The potential tire recall has been in the news intensively over the last days, with that estimate of 450,000 that apparently could separate during use. At least one fatal accident already had been blamed on the situation.
Sen. Kent Conrad, D-N.D., had raised the issue about the honey. He wants the Food and Drug Administration to implement bans on tainted honey, most of which comes from China.
In a bipartisan letter signed by 15 senators, Conrad urged the FDA to act on the problem soon.
“Recent alarming reports of adulterated food ingredients imported from China raise very serious concerns about the threats posed to U.S. consumers by impure and unfit food imports, and about the steps being taken by the U.S. government to detect and stop such imports,” Conrad wrote. “In this regard, we have particular concerns about imports of honey into the United States.”
He pointed out that the antibiotic chloramphenicol is a food contaminant that can cause idiosyncratic aplastic anemia.
“As shown on the FDA’s on-line listing of import refusals, the growing number of import refusals for impure, adulterated or otherwise unfit products from China far exceeds refusals for other countries,” wrote Conrad. “We fear that these reported incidents may only be a portion of a much larger problem. We are particularly concerned about common practices that may enable those who adulterate or mislabel imported honey to readily escape detection. For example, the continually changing list of enterprises selling honey from China, and the extensive history of fraud and illegal transshipment in honey imports from China may make it especially difficult to determine the actual producers of impure imported honey.”
Conrad’s action comes in the wake of similar concerns expressed by Sen. Dick Durban, D-Ill., and Rep. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn.. Those followed WND’s series of explosive investigative reports into threats to life and limb from Chinese products, reports that got enough attention from U.S. lawmakers to begin the process of developing standards and increasing inspections.
“I think we have reached a point, unfortunately, where ‘made in China’ is now a warning label in the United States,” said Durbin.
Durbin specifically referenced statistics gathered in WND’s investigation of product recalls from China. WND found most of the Consumer Product Safety recalls involved imports from China. Imports from China were recalled by the CPSC twice as often as products made everywhere else in the world, including the U.S., the study of government reports showed.
Concerns with China imports began with the pet food scandal that killed or maimed up to 39,000 American cats and dogs. WND’s investigation followed into imports of foods meant for human consumption. The New York Times and other major U.S. media followed.
As WND reported, China, the leading exporter of seafood to the U.S., is raising most of its fish products in water contaminated with raw sewage and compensating by using dangerous drugs and chemicals, many of which are banned by the FDA.
The stunning news followed WND’s report that FDA inspectors report tainted food imports from China are being rejected with increasing frequency because they are filthy, are contaminated with pesticides and tainted with carcinogens, bacteria and banned drugs.
China consistently has topped the list of countries whose products were refused by the FDA – and that list includes many countries, including Mexico and Canada, who export far more food products to the U.S. than China.
Durbin and Sen. Rosa DeLauro, D-Conn., held joint talks with FDA Commissioner Andrew von Eschenbach and Chinese Ambassador Zhou Wenzhong over the contaminated shipments from China. The senators claimed a victory in the form of a proposed agreement between the FDA and Chinese government and a commitment for increased food inspections from the FDA.
“This proposed agreement between the FDA and the Chinese government is a significant breakthrough in terms of food safety – and American consumers stand to be the big winners,” said Durbin.
In addition, Treasury Secretary Henry Paulson raised the issue last month with Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi. When she returned to China, Beijing promised to overhaul its food safety rules. Also, China sentenced to death Liu Pingjun, the former head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
China exports about $2 billion of food products to the U.S. every year and the total is rapidly growing. According to all U.S. food authorities, China is by far the biggest violator of food safety standards.
China is the second largest source of imports for the U.S. while the U.S. is China’s largest overseas market and second largest source of foreign direct investment.