The term ‘food poisoning’ is taken to the next level in China, with reports that not only have ingredients from China been killing pets, but have now killed up to 365 humans too. The New York Times reports that a safe additive used in cough syrup was substituted with diethylene glycol (an industrial solvent and a prime ingredient in anti-freeze) by Chinese companies. When exported from China, the syrup was labelled as 99.5 percent pure glycerin (a safe ingredient). It passed over three continents without being quality tested, and arrived in Panama to be used in cough medicine. Most of the victims have been children, unwittingly poisoned by their parents.
The New York Times says:
Toxic syrup has figured in at least eight mass poisonings around the world in the past two decades. Researchers estimate that thousands have died. In many cases, the precise origin of the poison has never been determined. But records and interviews show that in three of the last four cases it was made in China, a major source of counterfeit drugs….
…beyond Panama and China, toxic syrup has caused mass poisonings in Haiti, Bangladesh, Argentina, Nigeria and twice in India.
Diligence China, one of the more interesting sites lingering in our RSS feed reader, commented on this emerging scandal.
“There was a time when ex-pats and wealthy locals in China living in the Mainland bought foreign brands to avoid inferior products and dangerous, unregulated food and medicine. But now that practice has been flipped on its head. The danger is climbing the value chain and reaching our shelves – and our brands.”
This latest report comes after it was discovered that melamine, the poisonous additive used in American pet foods that sickened thousands of animals, was exported as “non-food” and shipped through a third-party textile company. The New York Times has also reported that cyanuric acid, a common pool chemical, has also been added to animal feeds that may be involved in this pet food scandal.
As with the Panamanian diethylene glycol scandal, pets aren’t only at danger from spiked foods. Low, and apparently harmless levels of melamine have also been detected in Canadian farmed-fish that were fed meal supplemented with contaminated constituents originating from China.
Shanghaiist isn’t surprised by this turn of events given the bounty of assorted stomach ailments we’ve endured during our time in China. We wonder how our pooches and kitties have been faring as well.
Thanks to By…Lin…Ed… for contributing this article.
Previously on Shanghaiist:
Rat poison strikes in Harbin, Zhejiang and US pet foods
Photo by 2dogs was found via the Shanghaiist Contribute page.