Thursday, May 03, 2007

'EAT ZINC!' CONTINUED: Tainting honey and pooching bees in China

In today's edition of -- EAT ZINC -- this week's unpopular series of blog articles on the tainting of food in China, readers are told of antibiotic spiking of honey.

In "Cleaning Up China's Honey," LA Times reporter Don Lee writes of "unhealthful practices" in the Chinese bee-keeping industry.

Lee writes of one bee-keeper trying to get his countrymen to not contaminate bees and honey in their search for profits. It's an uphill battle and they've given him a beating over it, the article says.

" . . . [A] gang of fifteen local bee-keepers ambushed [him] as he got out of his red Isuzu pickup truck, beating him and leaving him with a mild concussion."

China exports honey to the United States, "but as the honey business ... in western China shows, major obstacles remain ..." to the cleaning up of food.

It turns out, Chinese bee-keepers administer antibiotics -- specifically chloramphenicol and penicillin -- to their bees when they appear sickly or merely underproducing.

Chloramphenicol is a powerful drug which inhibits protein synthesis in bacteria.

Its usage is banned on animals used in food production in the United States because it depresses the function of bone marrow and causes idiosyncrastic aplastic anemia. It is also on track to be named as a carcinogen. (See here.)

"The reason these farmers use antibiotics is simple," said a Chinese agricultural expert. "It is cheap and effective."

"[One bee-keeper] knew chloramphenicol was illegal but ... said he had no idea that penicillin was another type of antibiotic and that its use had also been restricted," reported the newspaper.

"In 2002, Chinese honey was blocked, first by the European Union and then the US after shipments tested positive for chloramphenicol..."

The Chinese government outlawed the use of it, a step which restored shipments to the United States were it is now used in a variety of foods.

The newspaper add, "Last year, duck farmers added cancer-causing Sudan dye to their animal feed to make yolks redder and bring a higher price," it is reported. Baby foods were also nonspecifically fiddled with, a stunt which apparently led to fatalities there.

It's now clear that US journalists have swarmed some Chinese agricultural businesses, emitting a steady stream of stories on the sub rosa contamination of exported foods for the purpose of increasing profits.

Related: Eat Zinc! (Wednesday) -- Analyzing the idiotic use of zinc -- and other things -- in animal food additives and Xuzhou Anying Biologic's sales pitch for "Zinc Oxide of Feedstuff."

Eat Zinc! (Tuesday) -- Americans will buy anything, apparently. Melamine, urea, zinc oxide.

Incidental agroterrorism. Causing fear, mayhem and pain through greedy and bad business practices within the food supply chain.

Unfortunately, no LATimes link because of sequestration behind premium content wall. Maybe tomorrow if it moves on the wires.


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