- The Washington Times - Wednesday, November 23, 2011

ANALYSIS/OPINION:

The Grinch might have stole Christmas, but the Chinese Communist Party could ruin your Thanksgiving.

The Chinese government admitted a month ago that it deployed more than 1,000 paramilitary police to raid 273 locations in four provinces across the country. The massive operation wasn’t to crack down on the drug trade, human trafficking or terrorist operations. In this instance, the full power of the authoritarian state was mobilized to attack a much larger threat: toxic food. Poisonous Chinese produce is a growing crisis that puts the health of Americans at risk at their own dining-room tables.

Last year alone, 4 billion pounds of food worth almost $5 billion were imported into the United States from China, and large amounts of those shipments were rotten or pumped full of cancer-causing chemicals that violate U.S. Food and Drug Administration health standards. Between 2006 and 2010, more than 9,000 dangerous goods were stopped at the border. Chinese food imported to our country has tripled over the last decade, but less than 1 percent of imports are inspected. Every year, U.S. port authorities reject more containers of food for health violations from China than any other nation, but lots of bad eats still make it into American homes.

This is scary because many staples of the U.S. diet come predominately from the Middle Kingdom. For example, two-thirds of apple juice consumed in America - more than 400 million gallons annually - comes from China. The same goes for 75 percent of the tilapia we eat (288 million pounds in 2010), 50 percent of our cod, 20 percent of spinach and more than 88 million pounds of candy a year. For those who pop vitamins at breakfast, 90 percent of C supplements sold in the U.S. are produced in Chinese factories. In October, 23 Wal-Mart outlets were closed in China by the government for mislabeling produce. Wal-Mart is the largest distributor of Chinese products in America.

The raids Beijing announced earlier this month were to clamp down on food-processing facilities that were injecting industrial bleach into tofu to delay decay so food could stay on store shelves longer. More than 43 tons of toxic food were seized in this one effort, which isn’t even the tip of China’s toxic iceberg. In the past two years alone, the FDA halted shipments for the U.S. market that were found to be pumped full of steroids, antibiotics, chlorine, arsenic and other deadly chemicals to either make meat juicier, fruit and vegetables grow larger, or to extend shelf life.

Even when producers are not consciously marketing hazardous products, an ever-increasing amount of Chinese food is tainted because of the country’s out-of-control pollution problem. On Nov. 7, Beijing stated that 10 percent of all the nation’s farmland is contaminated by dangerous levels of industrial metals (including lead) that have tainted the soil and irrigation water. The communist government has been covering up this toxic-food problem for years, so chances are the level of contamination is much worse than the regime is admitting.

The People's Republic of China is the world’s No. 1 exporting nation and the largest source of imports into the U.S. In 2007, Beijing authorities executed the former head of China’s Food and Drug Administration for taking bribes to fudge product-safety certifications. The problem of poisonous produce has only gotten worse since then, with the potential for severe health consequences for American families. When loading your plate up for Thanksgiving dinner, calories might not be the biggest worry.

Brett M. Decker is editorial page editor of The Washington Times. He is coauthor of the new book “Bowing to Beijing” (Regnery, 2011).

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