Monday, October 27, 2008

Which came first?

Now we have melamine tainted eggs as well as milk. These may just be the tip of the iceberg.

What is really scary is that in the last several years I remember these other food related scandals as well:

1. A year or so ago a distributor in Hong Kong was caught selling rice that had gone moldy and been re-polished. It caused hallucinations and liver damage.

2. Fake soy sauce made out of human hair.

3. Fake fungus that looks like hair that may have actually been less dangerous than the real vegetable

4. Cancerous fish tainted with something called "Malachite Green"

5. Baby formula mixed with corn starch

6. Anti-freeze in tooth paste.

7. Moon Cake filling that was kept for years and was covered with mold

8. Poisonous fish sold as cod

9. Pesticides in dumplings

10. Antibiotics that were anything but.

11. Cooking oil that was sold as new but was really filtered cooking oil that had been discarded by restaurants

12. Halal cookies made with lard.

The story BBQ pork made from cardboard and industrial cleaners however was not true. But, can you blame people for believing it?

These are just the one's I can remember off the top of my head.

I have a friend up North who warned us about eating the freshwater crabs that come from China. Crabs are scavengers and he said that the people who raise them have been caught feeding them dead rats and dogs as well as plain old garbage. I don't like crab so they were easy for me to avoid.

There was a story on ATV this weekend about what are known as "Cancer Villages" in China where the water is so polluted with heavy metals and other toxins that the cancer rate is hundreds of times higher than normal. Question, do they water vegetables with that water and if so, are those vegetables sold in Hong Kong?

If I went into product recalls this list could get really long.

If I wanted to write about working conditions I could write a book.

China may be about to reach a point of no-return. There are enough people, even those who live in China who are afraid of the goods being produced here that they simply will not buy them. They'll either source those products elsewhere or do without them. I think this is kind of analogous to the situation US automobile manufacturers caused for themselves in the late 1970's. At that time the quality standard of US cars was absolutely horrific. We called them 50,000 mile throwaways. They were ugly, poorly designed vehicles. What a shame. The 1950's & 1960's were, in many ways the golden age of the American automobile and they fell off that pedestal really fast. It was at that time that the Japanese cars improved their quality and many US consumers decided that they were better off with a Toyota, Nissan (Called Datsun at that time) or Honda. Once that happened it became very difficult to regain those customers unless the Japanese makers pulled a similar stunt and only Subaru obliged. Now 30 years later, the US automobiles are actually a pretty good product but can't get those loyal Toyota buyers back.

Now suppose it wasn't just GM, Ford and Chrysler? Suppose it was all the wheat, all the apples, all the oranges, all the beer, wine, whiskey, bottled water and soft drinks, all clothing, machinery and services combined? This is where the Chinese are headed if they are not careful. What happens if the "Made in China" label has been so tarnished that it has the same cache as "Made in Detroit." What if people are willing, as happen to the American auto industry, to spend MORE for a Toyota made overseas than they are for a Chinese Ford?

If that happens, Hong Kong might not be such a great place to live.

Until Next Time
Fai Mao
The Blogger who isn't normally given to economic fear mongering

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