Friday, May 18, 2007

'EAT ZINC!' AGAIN: Get used to it because it's good business

No one needs this useless inert white powder. But if we put a little in your pet's food, no one will mind. And we can make some extra money. Isn't outsourcing the food supply chain great?

In today's edition of the Los Angeles Times, "China's additives on menu in U.S."

No fooling!

The synopsis: Some American food-making giants have quietly put out word to stop buying from the Chinese! And guess what? They can't do it! Everyone has outsourced parts of their food supply chain to China for the sake of cheap labor and enhanced profit!

Your friendly neighborhood GlobalSecurity.Org Senior Fellow discussed the issue at length in past editions of the tiresome and odious series, "EAT ZINC!"

The working example was provided by the melamine-poisoning company run by Mao Lijun, Xuzhou Anying. Not only did Lijun sell melamine as protein powder, he also offered the inert white powder, zinc oxide, as a food additive. (It's Xuzhou's product pic, above!)

Upon looking into the issue, it was discovered all kinds of pet dry food contain trace amounts of this useless ingredient under the sham rationalization that it's a necessary thing. No animals, and while we're at it -- no people, need zinc oxide in their diet. They get the very trace amounts of zinc necessary to life in normal meals of wholesome food. Yet Mao Lijun, Xuzhou Anying, and -- one presumes -- many others advertised zinc oxide as a good additive, a fine source of zinc for animals.

It's rubbish!

But just try getting ahold of pet food makers like MenuFoods or ChemNutra or Hills to ask why it's in their bagged goods. Ha-ha-ha, good luck with that!

The boilerplate US government functionary's response to the problem can be summarized, thus: Yes, some additives from China appear to be nasty but we can't control it because US businesses have let go of their supply chains. The good news is that most of the problemmatical ingredients are in such small quantity, they probably won't hurt you. That is, until someone gets really really greedy, pooches up the concentration, and then it hurts you, or your pets.

"As the recall of tainted pet food mushroomed into an international scandal, two of the largest US food manufacturers [Mission Foods and Tyson Foods] put out a blanket order to their American suppliers: No more ingredients from China," wrote the LA Times.

"The problem is, what Mission and Tyson want is next to impossible."

And therein lies the problem in food security. In this system, you can't have it.

The FDA and US government experts often love to squeal about how jihadists and Osama bin Laden would love to compromise the safety of US food.

"Oh, it is so easy to do!" they repeatedly say.

Pay no attention to the charlatans working behind the curtain next to the great and powerful Oz of Terrorists Are Menacing Our Food machine.

Al Qaeda doesn't have the savvy, the infrastructure or the personnel to threaten the food supply as easily as Xuzhou Anying did. Plus, they don't have the motivation. Dollars speak louder than the idea that "We'll make Americans afraid!" But the terrorists are always convenient super-boogeymen to which all manner of plots and powers can be attached.

"Some of [the Chinese additive vendors] are driven by profits; you can see the dollar dollar signs in their eyes," said one expert for the Times.

"In the US, major food manufacturers often don't know where all their ingredients originate . . . US food ingredient suppliers can only hope the pet food scare blows over."

That's not a bad bet to make.

However, there's a market opening now for bold souls who want to provide costlier goods that guarantee their ingredients are free of the unregulated fly-by-night suppliers from mainland China. After all, there are no additives supplied in China that cannot be made, and which were not once made, in the continental United States.

The original in the Los Angeles Times.

From the 'Eat Zinc!' archives:

Boss Melamine in pictures.

If you have zinc, maybe it's time to consider iron filings as a good food additive!

Incidental agroterrorism: They'll protect you from Osama bin Laden, but not melamine, buckos!


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