Wal-Mart Says Removed Chinese-Made Dog Treats Over Deadly Chemical

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

  I’m amazed that there are still any products out that are still on the shelves with the name “China” on them.  Is our country so desperate that we need to continue trade and play Russian roulette on a 50/50 chance, no I’d say far less than 50/50 chance that the products is going to be safe? 
  Oh yeah, BTW if you are one who enjoys eating with chopsticks you might want to think twice as one factory has recycled and sold at least 100,000 pairs.  Disenfecting them, what’s that, of course not!!!

NEW YORK  —  Wal-Mart Stores Inc. (WMT) said it pulled two Chinese-made dog treats from its shelves nearly a month earlier, and tests now show they had traces of melamine, a chemical found in pet food that was blamed for the deaths of pets and led to a massive recall earlier this year.

The two types of dog treats — Chicken Jerky Strips manufactured by Import-Pingyang Pet Product Co. and Chicken Jerky manufactured by Shanghai Bestro Trading — were removed from its stores on July 26, Wal-Mart spokeswoman Deisha Galberth said in a statement.

After 17 sets of tests, “the latest advice from our testing laboratory shows trace levels of melamine,” Galberth said.

The products will not be sold anymore, and a computerized block has been placed on the product at cash registers as an added precaution, Galberth said.

The Associated Press reported earlier that Wal-Mart had removed those two types of dog treats last month after customers complained that the products had made their pets sick.

Earlier this year, thousands of people flooded the U.S. Food and Drug Administration with complaints of animals becoming ill or dying after consuming certain pet foods.

The result was a recall of hundreds of brands of China-made pet food containing wheat gluten found to be tainted with melamine. That was followed by several others ranging from tires and toothpaste to toys and medicines.

The latest in the line of Chinese product safety scares is recycled chopsticks — a Beijing factory sold up to 100,000 used pairs a day without any form of disinfecting, the Beijing News reported.

FDA: Throw away toothpaste made in China

POSTED: 7:21 p.m. EDT, June 1, 2007

WASHINGTON (AP) — The government warned consumers on Friday to avoid using toothpaste made in China because it may contain a poisonous chemical used in antifreeze.

Out of caution, the Food and Drug Administration said, people should throw away toothpaste with labeling that says it was made in China. The FDA is concerned that these products may contain diethylene glycol.

The agency is not aware of any poisoning from toothpaste in the United States, but it did find the antifreeze ingredient in a shipment at the U.S. border and at two retail stores: a Dollar Plus store in Miami and a Todo A Peso store in Puerto Rico.

Officials said they are primarily concerned about toothpaste sold at bargain retail outlets. The ingredient in question, called DEG, is used as a lower-cost sweetener and thickening agent. The highest concentration of the chemical found in toothpaste so far was between 3 percent and 4 percent of the product’s overall weight.

“It does not belong in toothpaste even in small concentrations,” said the FDA’s Deborah M. Autor.

The FDA increased its scrutiny of toothpaste made in China because of reports of contamination in several countries, including Panama.

The agency is particularly concerned about chronic exposure to DEG in children and in people with kidney or liver disease.

Agency officials said they had no estimate of how many tubes of tainted toothpaste might have made it into the United States.

“Our concern today is potentially about all toothpaste that comes in from China,” Autor said. “Our estimate is that China makes up about $3.3 million of the $2 billion U.S. toothpaste market.”

The agency also issued an import alert Friday for all dental products containing DEG. The alert means toothpaste from China will be stopped at the border, she said.

Companies that make brands previously found with DEG will have to prove the toothpaste is free of the chemical before it’s allowed into the country. Meanwhile, all other brands of Chinese-made toothpaste will be stopped for testing, something the agency has been doing since May 23.

The import alert posted by the government says DEG has been improperly used in a variety of sedatives, syrups and cough medicines worldwide. Most recently, a cough syrup containing DEG resulted in more than 40 deaths in Panama last September.

The alert says the agency found DEG in three products manufactured by Goldcredit International Trading in China. The products are Cooldent Fluoride, Cooldent Spearmint and Cooldent ICE. Analysis of the products revealed they contained between 3 percent and 4 percent DEG.

The agency also found the chemical in one product manufactured by Suzhou City Jinmao Daily Chemical Co. in China. Analysis of that product, Shir Fresh Mint Fluoride Paste, found it contained about 1 percent DEG.

China’s food safety problems have in recent months become a matter of international concern, a situation reflected in trade talks between Chinese and U.S. officials in Washington last week.

Most notably, on March 15, FDA learned that certain pet foods were sickening and killing cats and dogs. FDA found contaminants in vegetable proteins imported into the United States from China and used as ingredients in pet food.

Ex-Chief of China Food and Drug Unit Sentenced to Death for Graft

DAVID BARBOZA
Published: May 30, 2007

This article follows my two previous posts-
-“Tainted Chinese Imports Common”
-“From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine”

SHANGHAI, May 29 — The former director of China’s top food and drug safety agency was sentenced to death on Tuesday after pleading guilty to corruption and accepting bribes, the state-controlled news media reported.

Zheng Xiaoyu was the commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration from its founding in 1998 until mid-2005, when he was removed from his post. He was detained in February in a government investigation of the agency, which is supposed to be China’s food and drug watchdog. Two other top agency officials have also been detained.

Mr. Zheng, 62, received the unusually harsh sentence amid heightened concern about the quality and safety of China’s food and drug system after several scandals involving tainted food and phony drugs.

China is also under mounting pressure to overhaul its food export controls after two Chinese companies were accused this year of shipping contaminated pet food ingredients to the United States, setting off one of the largest pet food recalls in United States history.

China’s regulators are also coming under scrutiny after diethylene glycol, a toxic chemical sometimes used in antifreeze, ended up in cough syrup and toothpaste in Latin America. In Panama, more than 100 people died last year after consuming cough medicine laced with diethylene glycol, which was shipped from China mislabeled as a harmless syrup.

The incidents pose a huge threat to China’s growing food and drug exports and have already led to international calls for new testing and screening methods for Chinese-made goods.

The problems are more serious in China because tens of thousands of people are sickened or killed every year as a result of rampant counterfeiting of drugs, and tainted and substandard food and drugs.

For instance, last year 11 people died in China after being treated with an injection tainted by a poisonous chemical. Six people died and 80 others fell ill after taking an antibiotic that had been produced, according to government regulators, with a “substandard disinfectant.”

Small drug makers in China have long been accused of manufacturing phony or substandard drugs and marketing them to the nation’s hospitals and pharmaceutical companies. And mass poisonings involving tainted food products are common.

The Chinese government has stepped up its patrols in recent weeks, announcing measures aimed at strengthening food and drug safety and cracking down on counterfeiting operations.

On Tuesday, the government said it was preparing to release its first regulation on nationwide food recalls. It also said it would crack down on food products that are being illegally exported, bypassing food inspections.

As for Mr. Zheng, the government said that as director of the Food and Drug Administration, he took bribes worth about $850,000 in exchange for approving drug production licenses.

Worried that many of those drugs may be substandard, China is reviewing more than 170,000 production licenses the agency issued in the past decade.

It is unclear whether or when Mr. Zheng will be executed. In some cases, death sentences for officials are commuted.

Tainted Chinese Imports Common – Rick Weiss

Posted by Sophie Beach 2007-05-19, 09:20 PM World

Following news that poisoned toothpaste imported to Panama may have come from China, the Washington Post offers another report on the ubiquity of contaminated imports from China, which U.S. officials have done little to stem. Last month alone, more than 1,000 counterfeit or tainted food, medicines, cosmetics or dietary supplements were detained at U.S. ports:

For years, U.S. inspection records show, China has flooded the United States with foods unfit for human consumption. And for years, FDA inspectors have simply returned to Chinese importers the small portion of those products they caught — many of which turned up at U.S. borders again, making a second or third attempt at entry.

Now the confluence of two events — the highly publicized contamination of U.S. chicken, pork and fish with tainted Chinese pet food ingredients and this week’s resumption of high-level economic and trade talks with China — has activists and members of Congress demanding that the United States tell China it is fed up. [Full text]

Read the rest of this entry »

From Pet Food to Cough Syrup and now Toothpaste, are we safe?

By WALT BOGDANICH and RENWICK McLEAN
Published: May 19, 2007

Can we really be sure we are safe? First it was pet food that was found to poisonous due to an ingredient “wheat gluten” from China, then “diethylene glycol” an ingredient found in *cough syrup* which thankfully has not reached the U.S.A. (as far as we know) and now the same ingredient “diethylene glycol” has been found in toothpaste, again not here.

All have one common denominator – CHINA. Just how safe are we? The cough syrup gained entrance into Panama via China covering up the ingredient “diethylene glycol” and listing it as glycerin. What is next and are we safe?

Diethylene glycol, a poisonous ingredient in some antifreeze, has been found in 6,000 tubes of toothpaste in Panama, and customs officials there said yesterday that the product appeared to have originated in China.
“Our preliminary information is that it came from China, but we don’t know that with certainty yet,” said Daniel Delgado Diamante, Panama’s director of customs. “We are still checking all the possible imports to see if there could be other shipments.”

Some of the toothpaste, which arrived several months ago in the free trade zone next to the Panama Canal, was re-exported to the Dominican Republic in seven shipments, customs officials said. A newspaper in Australia reported yesterday that one brand of the toothpaste had been found on supermarket shelves there and had been recalled.

Diethylene glycol is the same poison that the Panamanian government inadvertently mixed into cold medicine last year, killing at least 100 people. Records show that in that episode the poison, falsely labeled as glycerin, a harmless syrup, also originated in China.

There is no evidence that the tainted toothpaste is in the United States, according to American government officials.

Panamanian health officials said diethylene glycol had been found in two brands of toothpaste, labeled in English as Excel and Mr. Cool. The tubes contained diethylene glycol concentrations of between 1.7 percent and 4.6 percent, said Luis Martínez, a prosecutor who is looking into the shipments.

Health officials say they do not believe the toothpaste is harmful, because users spit it out after brushing, but they nonetheless took it out of circulation.

Mr. Martínez said at a recent news conference that the toothpaste lacked the required health certificates and had entered the market mixed in with products intended for animal consumption.

He said laboratory tests had found up to 4.6 percent diethylene glycol in tubes of Mr. Cool toothpaste. The Excel brand had 2.5 percent.

Miriam Rodríguez, a spokeswoman for the Health Ministry, said she knew of no one who had become sick from using the toothpaste.

Doug Arbesfeld, a spokesman for the United States Food and Drug Administration, said diethylene glycol was not approved for use in toothpaste. Though the F.D.A. has no evidence that the tainted toothpaste slipped into the United States, he added, “We are looking into the situation in Panama.”

Mr. Delgado, the director of Panamanian customs, said the Dominican authorities had been notified to be on the lookout for the suspect toothpaste.

In Panama City, a consumer notified the pharmacy and drugs section of the Health Ministry after seeing that diethylene glycol was listed as an ingredient in toothpaste at a store.

The ministry fined the store $25,000 and ordered it closed for not following proper procedures in putting products up for sale.

The Northern Star, a newspaper in the southeastern Australian city of Lismore, reported yesterday on its Web site that the Excel brand of toothpaste had been found in a chain of supermarkets and taken off the shelves immediately.

Two weeks ago, The New York Times reported that a Chinese factory not certified to make pharmaceutical ingredients had sold 46 barrels of syrup containing diethylene glycol that had been falsely labeled as 99.5 percent pure glycerin. That syrup passed through several trading companies before ending up in Panama, where it was mixed into 260,000 bottles of cold medicine.

At least 100 people died as a direct result, according to Dimas Guevara, a Panamanian prosecutor who is leading the investigation into the deaths.

Over the years, counterfeiters have found it financially advantageous to substitute diethylene glycol, a sweet-tasting syrup, for its chemical cousin glycerin, which is usually much more expensive.

Reference my post *From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine*

source: New York Times

Cat survives trip from China in cargo crate

Feline chews through box, spends at least 35 days amid motorcycle gear

Updated: 4:53 p.m. ET May 12, 2007

I found this article very interesting as I didn’t think cats could survive 35 days without food but then pets always seem to amaze me. I thought this was an intereting article to share, especially for pet owners like me.

HENDERSONVILLE, N.C. – After Eric Congdon opened a crate from China and discovered a cat inside, coming up with a name for the furry stowaway was easy.

China the cat had chewed through one of the boxes before it left Shanghai on April 3 and spent at least 35 days on a ship inside the container filled with motorcycle gear.

“I saw something in the container move,” Congdon said. “I turned up the headlights on the fork lift to get a better look.”

That was when he saw the cat cowering in a corner, weak but still alive. Congdon, owner of Olympia Moto Sports in Hendersonville, said he and a co-worker called the county’s animal services when the cat would not let them near.

A co-worker of Congdon’s plans to adopt China, as animal service workers are calling her, if she checks out with a veterinarian. North Carolina law says any animal coming into the country must be vaccinated and quarantined for six months.

“We have to take precautions,” said animal services manager Brenda Miller.

How could China survive for so long on no food and water?

“Usually we say that animals can only survive a few weeks without food and only a few days without water,” said Raleigh veterinarian Michelle Misavage. “The theory is that cats have such good kidneys their bodies adjust to the lack of water and somehow they received small amounts of moisture from condensation.”

Information source: MSNBC.com

From China to Panama, a Trail of Poisoned Medicine

By WALT BOGDANICH and JAKE HOOKER
Published: May 6, 2007 

The syrupy poison, diethylene glycol, is an indispensable part of the modern world, an industrial solvent and prime ingredient in some antifreeze.

It is also a killer. And the deaths, if not intentional, are often no accident.

 Over the years, the poison has been loaded into all varieties of medicine — cough syrup, fever medication, injectable drugs — a result of counterfeiters who profit by substituting the sweet-tasting solvent for a safe, more expensive syrup, usually glycerin, commonly used in drugs, food, toothpaste and other products.

Panama is the most recent victim. Last year, government officials there unwittingly mixed diethylene glycol into 260,000 bottles of cold medicine — with devastating results. Families have reported 365 deaths from the poison, 100 of which have been confirmed so far. With the onset of the rainy season, investigators are racing to exhume as many potential victims as possible before bodies decompose even more.

Panama’s death toll leads directly to Chinese companies that made and exported the poison as 99.5 percent pure glycerin…………..

Last week, the United States Food and Drug Administration warned drug makers and suppliers in the United States “to be especially vigilant” in watching for diethylene glycol. The warning did not specifically mention China, and it said there was “no reason to believe” that glycerin in this country was tainted. Even so, the agency asked that all glycerin shipments be tested for diethylene glycol, and said it was “exploring how supplies of glycerin become contaminated.”

China is already being accused by United States authorities of exporting wheat gluten containing an industrial chemical, melamine, that ended up in pet food and livestock feed. The F.D.A. recently banned imports of Chinese-made wheat gluten after it was linked to pet deaths in the United States.

From page 2 –

In fact, The Times found records showing that the same Chinese company implicated in the Haiti poisoning also shipped about 50 tons of counterfeit glycerin to the United States in 1995. Some of it was later resold to another American customer, Avatar Corporation, before the deception was discovered.

“Thank God we caught it when we did,” said Phil Ternes, chief operating officer of Avatar, a Chicago-area supplier of bulk pharmaceuticals and nonmedicinal products. The F.D.A. said it was unaware of the shipment.

 From page 3-

The failure of the government to stop poison from contaminating the drug supply caused one of the bigger domestic scandals of the year. Last May, China’s premier, Wen Jiabao, ordered an investigation of the deaths, declaring, “The pharmaceutical market is in disorder.”

At about the same time, 9,000 miles away in Panama, the long rainy season had begun. Anticipating colds and coughs, the government health program began manufacturing cough and antihistamine syrup. The cough medicine was sugarless so that even diabetics could use it.

The medicine was mixed with a pale yellow, almost translucent syrup that had arrived in 46 barrels from Barcelona on the container ship Tobias Maersk. Shipping records showed the contents to be 99.5 percent pure glycerin.

It would be months and many deaths later before that certification was discovered to be pure fiction.

From page 4 – A Major Clue

One patient of particular interest to Dr. Sosa came into the hospital with a heart attack, but no Guillain-Barré-type symptoms. While undergoing treatment, the patient received several drugs, including Lisinopril. After a while, he began to exhibit the same neurological distress that was the hallmark of the mystery illness.

“This patient is a major clue,” Dr. Sosa recalled saying. “This is not something environmental, this is not a folk medicine that’s been taken by the patients at home. This patient developed the disease in the hospital, in front of us.”

Soon after, another patient told Dr. Sosa that he, too, developed symptoms after taking Lisinopril, but because the medicine made him cough, he also took cough syrup — the same syrup, it turned out, that had been given to the heart patient.

“I said this has got to be it,” Dr. Sosa recalled. “We need to investigate this cough syrup.”

From page 5-

The Taixing Glycerine Factory bought its diethylene glycol from the same manufacturer as Mr. Wang, the former tailor, the government investigator said. From this spot in China’s chemical country, the 46 barrels of toxic syrup began their journey, passing from company to company, port to port and country to country, apparently without anyone testing their contents.

Traders should be thoroughly familiar with their suppliers, United States health officials say. “One simply does not assume that what is labeled is indeed what it is,” said Dr. Murray Lumpkin, deputy commissioner for international and special programs for the Food and Drug Administration.

From page 6-

A lawyer for Medicom, Valentín Jaén, said his client was a victim, too. “They were tricked by somebody,” Mr. Jaén said. “They operated in good faith.”

In Panama, the barrels sat unused for more than two years, and officials said Medicom improperly changed the expiration date on the syrup.

During that time, the company never tested the product. And the Panamanian government, which bought the 46 barrels and used them to make cold medicine, also failed to detect the poison, officials said.

The toxic pipeline ultimately emptied into the bloodstream of people like Ernesto Osorio, a former high school teacher in Panama City. He spent two months in the hospital after ingesting poison cough syrup last September.

From page 7-

Last fall, at the request of the United States — Panama has no diplomatic relations with China — the State Food and Drug Administration of China investigated the Taixing Glycerine Factory and Fortune Way.

The agency tested one batch of glycerin from the factory, and found no glycerin, only diethylene glycol and two other substances, a drug official said.

Information source: The New York Times
Renwick McLean and Brent McDonald contributed reporting