The United States is considering banning imported honey from China because it is contaminated with the antibiotic Chloramphenicol. SFGate reports that in 1997, Chinese beekeepers used the antibiotic instead of destroying hives when their bees suffered from a bacterial infection, and that traces of the antibiotic continues to be found in honey imported from China. To make things worse, some Chinese honey is being sold to a third country, repackaged and then imported into the US and Europe.

This time, the antibiotic danger is minimum (Chloramphenicol is banned from foods, and rarely used by doctors: It is dangerous to newborns, and can cause aplastic anemia in random patients, and from large doses such as given to patients with typhoid, but unlike Penicillin or other antibiotics, acute allergic reactions, which can be fatal, are rare). But the problem again points to shoddy standards in Chinese foods, and the willingness of their businessmen to resort to “honey laundering” to get around bans of their products.

We rarely use honey, but the local papers report another scare that might hit closer to home: Carbamide in plastic dinnerware.

An AFP report in ABS-CBN say reports in the Chinese media say that the Chinese government is checking tableware for Carbamide, an ingredient used to whiten plastics (and teeth).

The investigation came after Chinese media reported some plastic tableware sold in domestic supermarkets and wholesale markets contained a chemical component that could be poisonous when heated, the newspaper said.

The component, identified as carbamide, can be an irritant to skin, eyes and the respiratory system, the reports said.

Again, not a problem, unless you are eating something hot, but since plastic tableware use is common in fast food places here in the Philippines, the government will have to follow up if any of the poorly made tableware was imported here.

China is busy prosecuting those guilty of the tainted milk scandal, and doesn’t need more bad publicity.

Despite a growing economy, there is a worry that it’s big export market to the US will be hit in the recession. A slowdown of the economy and increased numbers of jobless persons could result in increased social unrest in cities and rural areas, reports the BBC.


Nancy Reyes is a retired physician living in the rural Philippines. She blogs at Finest Kind Clinic and Fishmarket.

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