Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Chemical Farms

I had wondered when we would find out who had supplied the poisonous wheat gluten to Menu Foods, the company that, as it turns out, manufactures a great deal of the "unique" and expensive (as well as generic) cat and dog food in the US and Canada. The latest link in what is now a devastating chain of broken trust between pet and owner, owner and brand name, brands and their suppliers, etc., has come to light. Though I did not see it in the print media, sites such as The Daily Kos were talking about it last week. I found it after checking the update on MenuFoods' site. It is a company called ChemNutra ("The China Source Experts"). The irony of the spliced "chem+"nutra" is now only too obvious, as the fact that one would buy wheat gluten, something so easily, but not, I'm sure, as cheaply ---and I mean in every sense of that word--- produceable in the US and Canada, from that slave-labor dependent, human-rights denying, dog-shooting nation. I suppose if I wanted a monolithic, but perhaps more famous theme blog, I would try to chronicle a year of trying to live without, or buy any products made in China. Trust me, I've given it a casual go, and it's not easy, except on the most superficial level. By-products are everywhere. For example, would you have known that Science Diet also used ChemNutra as its supplier for their one recipe that contains wheat gluten ? Read the package, and it seems as if it's all coming from the US, or at least places that respect human rights. The only good news ? Since ChemNutra is a US company, they can be sued and held responsible. Here is how their website describes the company:

ChemNutra imports quality ingredients from China to the U.S. for the feed, food and pharma industries. We are a professionally managed, American owned company experienced in negotiating, securing and delivering ultra-competitive pricing on high-quality chemicals and ingredients from quality-assured manufacturers in China. We bridge the business and cultural gaps…including all regulatory, compliance, import and transportation requirements.

We specialize in Taurine, L-Cysteine, Glycine, Vital Wheat Gluten, and Glucuronolactone, and we also handle many other ingredients.

ChemNutra imports over 4,000 tons per year, and our customers include several Fortune 500 companies.

Note, when you go to their products list, that the "chemicals" they are talking about are human and animal nutrients, including a long list of vitamins. Naturally, ChemNutra has been quick to name its Chinese source, a company one presumes is beyond the reach of true regulation and the law. Simply click on "Media Info" on their web site to read the whole press release, excerpted here: ChemNutra Inc. yesterday recalled all wheat gluten it had imported from one of its three Chinese wheat gluten suppliers – Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd. [...]ChemNutra did not ship to facilities that manufacture food for human consumption, and the distributor ChemNutra shipped to supplies wheat gluten only to pet food manufacturers. The total quantity of Xuzhou Anying wheat gluten shipped was 792 metric tons. ChemNutra learned on March 8 from one pet food manufacturer that the wheat gluten it had sold them – all from the Xuzhou Anying - was among ingredients suspected as a potential cause of pet food problems.

That's seven hundred ninety-two metric tons. And "among the ingredients suspected as a potential cause" stills sounds too hopeful, doesn't it ?

Let me close this post with a report from the AP wires from today's local paper, as irony by juxtaposition says so much more than I might be able to sum up otherwise:

BEIJING: One person died and more than 200 people fell sick after eating food that may have been contaminated with rat poison at a hospital restaurant in northeast China, state media and the hospital said Tuesday.Xinhua News Agency said the victims included patients and staff at the Heilongjiang Provincial Hospital of Traditional Chinese Medicine. It said the victims all ate porridge for breakfast at the hospital's restaurant Monday, and investigators suspected the water had been contaminated by rat poison.
Mass poisonings are common in China.

1 comment:

109 said...

These offshore outsourcings are a threat to out secure supplies of all kinds of things. And we are going toward such economies of scale that everything rests on two or one suppliers when, as you point out, the stuff is easily made by diverse, small companies but they cant break into the distribution racket.

-- Evan, Two Dishes