Toxic Cowpeas — Just Don't Spill The Beans…

Here is yet another new food scandal; this time it involves a disturbing twist. This one involves cowpeas grown in Hainan and shipped to many parts of China. It seems some recent batches were contaminated with isocarbophos, a toxic pesticide banned in China since 2004 but still apparently available.

The disturbing twist this time involves statements by the Hainan food inspectors. Instead of publicly apologizing, they were criticizing the Wuhan public health agencies for warning the public! Here’s the astonishing quote:

A quality inspector in Yacheng township in Sanya said that it was a “written rule” that embarrassing scandals involving poisoned crops should not be publicized. Such information should only be circulated internally among governments, the inspector said.

The inspector said that vegetables transported from other provinces to Hainan were also found with excessive pesticide residues, but nothing was released to the public, CNR reported.

The inspector said releasing such news to consumers does not benefit the citizens. There was no explanation why the Sanya authorities felt that releasing the information was bad for consumers.

Wow. This unintended disclosure really goes to the heart of the matter here. It’s further proof that every consumer needs to be as vigilant as possible regarding your food purchases. This is why I prefer organics or the GreenFood labels; at least there’s some type of accountable food chain where one theoretically can assume a higher level of inspection and quality. Also, many organics packages have bar codes, traceable batch numbers and phone numbers in case of any issues. It’s also another indirect endorsement of organic farms and buying directly from them, if you’re lucky enough to afford it.

You can read more on this from the New York Times as well as China Daily: http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/To2010-02/27/content_9514301.htm


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