Sunday, May 27, 2007

Food to Die For

Chicago Tribune:Monkfish recalled as 2 sickened in Chicago
A California company on Thursday recalled thousands of pounds of frozen fish from China after two people in Chicago became ill from eating what may have been toxic pufferfish, officials said.

The fish was labeled monkfish, but federal officials found life-threatening levels of tetrodotoxin in the fish. The toxin is typically associated with pufferfish.

....The fish recall is the latest problem food product from China, a leading exporter of food and food ingredients.

In March, chemical-laced pet food ingredients from China were blamed in the deaths of more than 4,000 cats and dogs in the U.S. and Canada. On Thursday, the FDA began monitoring Chinese toothpaste imports because tainted products were found in other countries.

Health and Human Services Secretary Michael Leavitt said Thursday that China had agreed to consider upgrading its food safety standards.

The pufferfish poison "is really one of the most toxic things that you can find in food," said Caroline Smith DeWaal, food safety director for the Center for Science in the Public Interest. "It really illustrates the weakness in the U.S. program for overseeing imports."

Imagine for a moment a US company poisoned a customer due to poor quality control and after the fact regulators announced the company had agreed to consider upgrading its food safety standards. Allowing Chinese companies to skip the most basic food safety standards is not only bad for American consumers but it is unfair competition for American producers.

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