Great piece by the Contra Costa Times (thanks Mike!) (Bolding and red are mine.)
(Make sure to add Milk Protein Concentrate to your 'things to avoid' list)
THE BUSH ADMINISTRATION needs to take a serious look at our food supply.
Late last month, federal officials were doing another round of damage control, this time contacting pork and poultry producers in nine states about melamine-tainted feedstock and culling suspected animals.
Unfortunately, some livestock could not be recalled because they were already on their way to your plate.
The Federal Drug Administration's response? Not to worry, there is no scientific evidence that eating melamine is bad for humans, so no grocery recall is necessary.
Consumers have now unwittingly joined their pets as subjects in a massive food-safety experiment.
Melamine is a plastic coal derivative used in the manufacture of fertilizer. It has never been tested or approved for animal or human consumption. And yet there is a large underground market in China selling melamine scrap for livestock feed as a cheap filler, boosting nitrogen levels and creating the appearance of higher protein content, according to the New York Times.
This is hardly the first case of an illegal byproduct getting dumped into the U.S. food system with the tacit approval of the FDA.
Milk protein concentrate, which enters the United States as an industrial-grade ingredient to make adhesives and which has never been subject to consumer-safety testing or given Generally Regarded as Safe (GRAS) status by the FDA, is now found in hundreds of adulterated cheese products, candies, chips, nutritional drinks and other processed junk foods.
For powerful corporations like Kraft, it is much more lucrative to import milk protein concentrate to make Velveeta, Mac n' Cheese or Kraft Singles and hope pliant FDA officials turn a blind eye than to pay U.S. family dairy farmers a fair price for real domestic milk.
Responsibility for this latest food scandal lies with runaway globalization, as well as the corrupting influence of corporate agribusiness on government oversight.
As U.S. trade barriers came down and imports skyrocketed, corporations raked in unprecedented profits and consumers were left fearing the old Latin adage: "caveat emptor," or buyer beware.
The FDA, with barely 1,700 inspectors, checks only about 2 percent of all U.S. food imports.In the wake of last year's E. coli spinach outbreak and this year's melamine pet food scandal, citizens should demand greater accountability from such agencies as the FDA and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Country of Origin Labeling, which was mandated in the last farm bill but has been applied only to seafood, should be fully implemented for all imported food immediately.
Without this type of labeling, consumers and farmers don't have the choice to avoid products from those countries that have proved to be dangerous free-trade partners.
Something as essential as food deserves at least as much truth in labeling as clothing. And it deserves more serious government regulation -- not less.
Peck is executive director of Family Farm Defenders, a grass-roots organization that works on issues of sustainable agriculture, fair trade, consumer safety, labor rights, animal welfare, rural justice and food sovereignty.