Large US corporations are stepping up their analysis
of imported goods that they sell, making more unannounced
visits to Chinese factories for inspections even as
stores are forced to pull out merchandise from the shelves
at the first hint of a problem. Consumer activists,
on the other hand, are weighing the effects of a "Made
in China" boycott on the average consumer
even for just a week.
US companies like Kellogs, Toys "R" Us and
General Mills are increasing their scrutiny of thousands
of everyday products they receive from Chinese suppliers,
as widening recalls of items like toys and toothpaste
force them to focus on potential hazards that were overlooked
in the past.
in the US are increasingly confirming whether the products
they sell are made of ingredients imported from China
that are banned by the Food and Drugs Administration,
sources point out.
US shoppers are concerned about food and product safety,
set on making a political statement against outsourcing,
or intent on showing a little patriotism, they''re sure
to have a tough time avoiding products made in China.
Chinese exports have been in the spotlight since the
alleged deaths of dogs and cats in North America which
was attributed to tainted Chinese wheat gluten, and
the recall of Chinese-made radial tyres and an alert
by the Food and Drug Administration, warning about contaminated
Mills, which makes food products like Pillsbury dough
and Chex cereals, is testing for potential contaminants
that it did not look for previously, although it would
not name the substances. Kellogg has increased its use
of outside services that scrutinise Chinese suppliers
and has identified alternative suppliers if vital ingredients
become unavailable. And Toys "R" Us recently
hired two senior executives in new positions to oversee
procurement and product safety, mainly for goods made
Kellogs is not using imported Chinese ingredients, the
company said it is taking extra step of scrutinising
the ingredients that it does import from China, like
vitamins, honey, cinnamon, water chestnuts and freeze-dried
strawberries. It also screened its Chinese suppliers
for links to the recent pet food recall.
discovery over the last few months of tainted or defective
products from China, including toothpaste, tires, toys
and fish, has prompted US lawmakers to fault companies
for compromising quality in their quest for inexpensive
imports and higher profits.
for non-China-made groceries at US grocery stores seemed
to be presenting few challenges, but it turned out to
be more of a case of blissful ignorance than well-informed
consumerism. Product origins are seldom better communicated
in product packages.
Products in non-food category communicated their origins
better than their edible counterparts.
Labels of Suave shampoo, Dial hand soap, Kleenex tissues,
Ziploc bags, Solo cups, Bounty napkins, Tide laundry
detergent, S.O.S. pads and Dawn dish detergent all read
"Made in USA," although none of the labels
got specific about the ingredients.
The 2002 Farm Bill passed by Congress mandated country-of-origin
libelling for seafood, beef, lamb, pork, fish, fruits,
vegetables, and peanuts, but the Bush administration
has delayed its implementation for everything except
seafood until October 2008.
None of the products may have the "Made in China
," tag but most are likely made with at least one
ingredient that originated there and here lies the catch.
The labels on most food products speak little of the
origin of their ingredients.
US companies do not improve their safeguards and more
tainted goods are found to be entering the country,
the safety of imports could take on a bigger political
dimension, say lawmakers.
spate of recalls and the rising volume of exports have
highlighted the increasing dependence of the big US
food manufacturers on China for basic additives like
apple juice, a common sweetener, and preservatives like
ascorbic acid. These little-known additives form the
building blocks of many popular staples in American
kitchens, keeping fruit from turning brown or providing
the sweetness in breakfast bars.
of now, China supplies more than half of all the apple
juice imported to the United States, up from a fraction
a decade ago, say food experts. More than 80 per cent
of ascorbic acid, or vitamin C, also used as a preservative,
comes from China. Chinese imports of xanthan gum, used
to thicken dairy products and salad dressings, account
for at least 40 per cent of US consumption.
is a problem for the whole food chain, but companies
were overlooking these just because of the fact that
the prices were attractive.