As if melamine in milk and tainted pet food – imported from China wasn’t bad enough, we read today about Chinese Farmers overdosing their crops with chemicals (the growth accelerator forchlorfenuron) causing watermelons to explode.
China was the source of most contaminated or unsafe foodstuffs that came into Europe in 2009, according to a European Union report, highlighting the potential hazards for food and beverage companies of doing business with Chinese firms. Chinese products were involved in 345 safety alerts, said ‘The Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed, Annual Report 2009’. That number was down from the previous year’s figure of 500, but was still nearly 25% more than Turkey, in second place. The data shows that China, although making great strides in improving its food safety in recent years, still lags behind Europe and North America.
One may ask how chemically treated, exploding Chinese Watermelons could affect the rest of the world – but they could. You only need to learn that many of farmers resorted to chopping up the fruit and feeding it to fish and pigs, the report said.
Ask yourselves if fish and pork products and by-products are used in the food supply in your country of residence? It may take some super sleuthing on your part, but the answer will be an inevitable YES! The same thing happened when we had the tainted milk scare. The dangerous substance turn up all over the world, right through the food supply chain.
There is government concern over the increasing percentage of imported foods into Australia. Over the past five years processed vegetable imports have increased steadily by 4.1% per annum. The percentage currently sits at 20.4% and continues to rise each year.
| “New Zealand, the United States of America, China and Thailand are our primary import suppliers, with convenience foods such as individual serves of vegetables suitable for cooking in the microwave being the most popular product category as they appeal to many of our fast paced Australians lives.”
|You can help Australian farmers and help your family at the same time, by buying Australian fresh, locally grown produce. Australian farmers pride themselves in having the world’s best growing standards.|
Some imported vegetables may be so contaminated they could make consumers sick. Food experts want new standards and clearer labelling.
Food experts have warned that imported vegetables from certain countries, such as China, Vietnam, Thailand and India, may pose a public health risk.
Food Safety Consultant and former Chief Food Inspector with the Health Department, Des Sibraa, said many consumers would not eat the products if they knew the level of contamination.
Despite lower food standards in some other countries, more cheap imported vegetables than ever have flooded into Australia in the last two years:
Frozen vegetable mixes have shot up 90 per cent,
* processed potatoes up 150 per cent,
* capsicum a 75 per cent increase.
* Garlic – now 95 per cent in our shops is imported – mostly from China;
* asparagus, around 50 per cent is imported,
* green peas 25 per cent,
* Onions and shallots from China 20 per cent are imported.
We bring into Australia $100 million worth of imports per year, according to Euan Laird of the Australian Vegetable and Potato Growers’ Federation, AusVeg
Why do we need to import all of these items when we can grow much of what we consume here in Australia? Why do we need to export our produce, only to have it processed overseas and imported back – to sell in our stores?
A recent trip to my local Woolworth’s supermarket, shopping for tinned pears in syrup was a real revelation. I found pears from Greece, China and South Africa on the shelves – where were the Australian Grown products? – nowhere to be found.
If you buy tinned, packaged, frozen or processed foods you run the risk of serious contamination issues. Those exploding Chinese Watermelons might just end up on your dinner plate in the same way the melamine tainted milk products did.
In the recent Food Industry News I learned that:
Leading food manufacturers, academics and the US government will be working with a top-level Chinese delegation over the next few weeks as part in an international effort to promote global food safety, according to FoodProductionDaily.com.
The two dozen senior Chinese Government officials kicked off a three-week food safety tour across two continents this week as part of the initiative that aims to show how to boost food safety through an integrated approach.
The Global Food Safety-China Program (GFS-CP) will be focussing on how industry, scientists and governments must work together if a food safety system is to be effective.
The mission comes as the emergence of a string of food contamination scares in China – from tainted meat, milk and even buns – have once again raised serious concerns over safety standards in the country’s vast processing sector.
It is gratifying to learn that China is now reaching out to the rest of the world at large; especially in the area of food safety standards, but in the interim we know that farmers in China are still making use of dangerous chemicals at high doses. This leaves us all at risk of food chemical contamination.
There have been far too many ‘bungles’ and I suspect we do not get to hear about all of them.
Buy local produce. Support your local industries. Visit your local Farmers market, buy from roadside stalls. Create jobs and employment opportunities for your own country. Home grown should equate to safer healthier products.
Talk with your local politicians about amending the Made In Australia label… it ought to mean what it says!