April 24, 2007

Pet Food Poisons and Your Vitamins

In case you need more things to worry about, take a look at this article from the Washington Post:
It's Not Just Pet Food

Here's what stuck out to me, "Currently, most of the world's vitamins are manufactured in China. Unable to compete, the last U.S. plant making vitamin C closed a year ago. One of Europe's largest citric acid plants shut last winter, and only one vitamin C manufacturer operates in the West."

The rest of the article explains that there is no oversight of the food ingredients and vitamins coming into this country from China at the level where you'd detect poisons like lead, pesticides, and other toxic chemicals. We know that these are a huge issue with Chinese products destined for human consumption because there's a long history of Chinese people being poisoned by the products of the same manufacturers who are now selling their products to the rest of the world.

The Chinese have been pursuing what has turned out to be a very successful strategy whose goal--almost attained--has been to shut down competing factories all over the world by offering products at extremely low prices that factories elsewhere can't match. This is made possible by the Chinese government's manipulating the value of their country's currency so that the $.30 an hour they pay a worker has a buying power, in China many times that of $.30 in the U.S. or for that matter any other developed nation.

When there are no more factories left, of course, the Chinese manufacturers will be able to raise their prices, because it will take decades for other countries to rebuild their manufacturing infrastructures. And you don't even want to think about the military implications of the fact that the U.S. has lost most of its machine shops, steel mills, hard goods factories, etc. and that most "American" manufacturers are getting their "American" products manufactured in cheap Chinese factories because our laws (thanks to Republican friends of big business) allow a company to slap a "Made in America" label on imported item as long as one or two steps in the manufacturing process are done in the U.S..

But to get back to Diabetes. We all know what happened with the poisoned pet food. But that problem came to light because kidney failure in younger pets is not common, so when veterinarians started seeing a lot of kidney failure in younger pets, they raised the alarm.

The problem is that doctors expect to see kidney failure in people with diabetes of all ages. People with diabetes take a lot of vitamins and supplements--far more than the usual patient--but because of this expectation, if there was a toxic chemical in their pills--which is very likely and which, has, in fact, already occurred with some supplements made in China--doctors would be very slow to pick up on it.

It only took a handful of pet deaths to turn up toxic pet food. How many deaths of humans will it take until we notice the toxins caused by cheap Chinese-imported food and vitamin ingredients in human food? And how many of them are already occurring and being attributed to "diabetes" and "obesity"?

I've stopped taking vitamin supplements My original motivation was the large research study that showed that ingesting chemical antioxidants seemed to increase, rather than decrease mortality. With the latest news in view, one has to ask whether this may have had something to do with undetected toxins in the antioxidants used in the study, which probably came from China, given that as the article above states, they have driven all other countries out of the vitamin business.

I suggest you take a long hard look at the handfuls of supplements you're chugging, too, since they, too, probably come from China, and may have been processed with water laced with lead and industrial waste, to say nothing of doctored with ingredients not listed on the label, some of which are dangerous (but very cheap) prescription drugs.

I am also cutting way back on processed foods that might contain the questionable imported food additives. I already avoid hydrolyzed vegetable protein (MSG/soy product) because of its known unhealthy effect on appetite, but I'm adding gluten, guar gum, and a few other ingredients which were cited in the article above to my list of things to avoid. I don't eat a lot of processed food as it is, but it looks like I'm going to be eating a whole lot less.

Even so, it isn't possible to avoid everything dangerous. The irony with the pet food poisoning was that the supposedly "organic" pet foods turned out to be more toxic to pets than the cheap stuff I buy my kitty at Stop & Shop. That should be a warning to those of you who think that paying top dollar at Whole Foods protects you. A scan of the ingredients of most boxed and bottled "health food" products reveals that, besides the truckloads of sugar and starch that make them far from "healthy" for people with diabetes, they also contain lots of possibly imported ingredients like guar gum and gluten. As long as food manufacturers can buy an ingredient from China for one tenth of what it costs elsewhere, that isn't going to change.


Anonymous said...

The cheaper cat foods often contain more grains than protein, and because of lack of labeling laws, the "by-products" of mystery pet meat may contain road kill, euthanized pets from "shelters," and sick cattle. Getting many calories from grain is not natural for cats, but is cheaper than including good protein, and contributes to cat obesity and diabetes. A cat might eat the contents of its small prey's stomach, but not corn or wheat in any form.
You might be interested in reading "Food Pets Die For: Shocking Facts about Pet Food" by Martin.

The other points you make are excellent. I am not taking any supplements until Country of Origin can be guaranteed for each ingredent. Germany has higher standards than the U.S. supposedly does, but we obviously have no standards if China has taken over this industry.

Lara said...

I hope that someone out there will find a reliable brand of vitamins that are free of ingredients made in China.. and post the results!