The Wasatch Behind: Problems made in China
"I'll be darned," Uncle Spud sputtered as he put down the TV remote in disgust. "Now we've got to recall fish made in China. Whodathunk?"
"We get fish from China?" I asked.
"Prime Chinese carp," he smiled. "But of course they don't call it carp here in the good old USA. They call it by a whole lot of other fancy names, but deep down inside the frozen fish box, it's carp, and recently, it's been contaminated carp."
"Sounds fishy to me," I said. "Why do we buy fish from China, especially contaminated fish?"
"We get lots of contaminated food items from China," he said. "Almost all of our contaminated rice, wheat, vegetables, toothpaste, fish, and pet foods come from China."
"Why is everything contaminated?" I asked.
"Well, China has the worlds fastest growing economy and they have almost no environmental laws or controls," he said. "They are quickly becoming the world's largest polluter, even worse than the old Soviet Union. When it comes to mining, manufacturing, and agriculture, almost anything goes. And on top of all that, the Chinese have no Food and Drug Administration to do inspections and keep the food supply safe. When it comes to eating in that communist worker's paradise, it's every dog for himself - so to speak, of course."
:But doesn't our government inspect foreign products before they hit our grocery shelves?" I asked.
"Well yes," he said, not very convincingly. "Our people do spot sampling, but we don't often check for things we find in Chinese products. Like who would have guessed to look for antifreeze in toothpaste?"
"But why do American companies import the stuff if there is such a high degree of risk for contamination and general low quality?" I asked.
"Big Bucks," he smiled. "Why make a 20 percent profit with stateside dog food when you can make a 500 percent profit by importing the contaminated Chinese stuff?"
"Somehow that doesn't sound ethical to me," I said.
"Ethics has no place in business anymore," he said. "Didn't you watch the ENRON scandal on TV? And why do you think we keep our borders open to accommodate a steady flow of slave laborers?"
"But we can't tolerate the importation of contaminated food products," I said. "Chinese and American businessmen are going to have to clean up their act."
"Not necessarily," he offered. "Our government and big business can fix almost anything by working with the name. You know, the way they are trying to do with the illegal alien problem. Instead of illegal aliens, they now call them 'undocumented foreign workers.' For the contaminated Chinese food products, we could rename them Perfidious Uninspected Foreign Foodstuffs or PUFF products for short. That sounds more appealing. The PUFF products would be uninspected because that's the way we would allow them into the country from now on. It's cheaper, and it's only fair. We let millions of undocumented foreign workers enter the country uninspected every year. How many of them are contaminated?"
"Why not go even further and register 'Contaminated' as a brand name?" I suggested. "Just think, on the store shelf we could have brands like, General Foods, Pillsbury, Best Buy, and Contaminated Chinese."
"Yes," he said. "And we could expand the truth in labeling laws to allow for multiple-use labeling. We could list things like: This toothpaste can be used as automotive antifreeze in a pinch. Or, this dog food contains chemical compounds that work well as a paint and varnish remover when mixed with water or gravy. Or, we could expand the warning labels to say things like: These fish sticks are combustible and should not be served around sparks or open flames. Do not smoke while handling. Wash hands thoroughly. Do not get in eyes. Call for medical assistance if ingested."
"Naw," I said. "That's getting a little too involved. 'Made in China' pretty well sums it up. Lets just stick with that for now."