Zhou Qing

WASHINGTON – With hundreds now dead in Panama as a result of poisons in Chinese-made toothpaste, the translation of a shocking Chinese report on food safety on the mainland is not likely to ease growing consumer concerns in the U.S. and Europe over imports from the Communist country.

The report, authored by Zhou Qing and titled “What Kind of God: A Survey of the Current Safety of China’s Food,” a finalist for the 2006 international Ulysses Award, reveals widespread use of toxic chemicals in the preparation of food meant even for domestic consumption.

Pickled vegetables have long been one of the most popular snack foods in China. However, according to Zhou, they now “strike terror in people’s hearts.”

“Although pickled vegetables were first made in Sichuan, there is hardly anyone in the whole country who hasn’t tasted this delicious snack,” he writes. “But now when you visit Sichuan, your friends will say to you: ‘Do you like pickled vegetables?’ There’s a factory in Chengdu that pickles the vegetables in DDVP. In the past, everyone in Sichuan would have pickled vegetables with their meals, but now the managers of some pickled vegetable factories say that, ‘We don’t eat any of these pickles in Sichuan, we sell them to people from other provinces.'”

What is DDVP? It is an acutely toxic, carcinogenic chemical used as a pesticide that can cause pain just through contact with human skin. Inhalation is known to cause convulsions, dizziness, sweating, labored breathing, nausea, unconsciousness and muscle cramps. Diarrhea, vomiting and abdominal cramps are caused by ingestion of even small amounts.

Zhou says he learned the truth about pickled vegetables through a series of secret interviews.

“The most important part of the pickling process is the soaking,” he wrote. “I noticed that the salt used in the pickling was not only whiter than most salt, but the grains were finer. So I asked, ‘How come it’s so white?’ The manager said, ‘This salt is bought on the black market. It’s cheaper by 50 yuan a jin.’ Later, in the yard outside, I saw printed on the bags of salt the terrifying words, ‘Industrial Salt’ and ‘Not for human consumption.'”

Workers at the factory told Zhou they have always used the industrial salt and they knew other factories used it as well.

Later Zhou asked workers about insects he saw crawling around the vats of pickled vegetables. He was told there are always lots of insects on the vegetables until they are treated with chemicals.

He watched the process and took a sample of the chemical to the China Food Import Export Investigation Center – 99 percent strength DDVP.

Zhou also recounted the horrors discovered in the processing of another popular snack food – “Cold Skin.” Workers kneaded the dough with their feet and added urine and saliva to the mixture.

“We are seeing more and more of these famous snacks being destroyed before our eyes: the Guanshengyuan mooncakes filled with rotten ingredients, the DDVP pork legs from Jinhua, the poisonous minced meat from Taiqiang, Pingyao’s toxic beef,” he writes. “Then there was all the news about pork contaminated with ‘lean pork powder’ and poisonous beansprouts.”

Zhou also uncovered salted fish “preserved” with insecticide DDVP.

A survey in China found 82 percent of the public afraid about the safety of the nation’s food. Some 90 percent interviewed had encountered problems of their own.

While Zhou’s report focused on food products meant for domestic consumption in China, the rest of the world is focused on a series of disasters involving Chinese exports – including food.

Following the pet food poisoning that killed or maimed an estimated 39,000 cats and dogs in the U.S., WND embarked on an investigation of other Chinese imports. What it has found to date:

The scandals are having a major impact on Chinese society, too.

“The food security problems have impeded Chinese agri-products and food many times in international trade, and damaged our national credibility and image,” Sun Xianze, director of food safety coordination at the State Food and Drug Administration, said at a weekend seminar.

“The occurrence of food safety incidents or cases not only affects the healthy development of the whole industry, but also may impact upon economic and social stability.”

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