Thursday, February 21, 2008

Gaps Found in China Supply Chain


http://online.wsj.com/article/SB120354600035281041.html?mod=hps_us_pageone
YUANLOU, China -- In a small, damp factory here, blood-smeared men wring pulp from pig intestines, then heat it in concrete vats.

The activity at Yuan Intestine & Casing Factory is the first step in the poorly regulated process of making raw heparin, the main ingredient in a type of blood-thinning medicine that in recent days has come under suspicion in the deaths of four Americans.

More than half the world's heparin comes from China. The chemical is often extracted from pig entrails in small factories -- many as rudimentary as this one, which also manufactures sausage casings from intestines. The heparin eventually ends up in drugs used world-wide by patients having surgery or who need dialysis.Heparin goes through extensive processing in its journey from abattoir to IV bag. Nevertheless, because some of it originates in tiny Chinese factories like these, if there's a problem with the final medication, it can be nearly impossible to trace the raw heparin back to the source, the pigs whose tissue was used to make it.

2 comments:

Trusso Cafarello said...

As we can see from this article, cheap labor and cheap prices has a double edged sword.
Companies in the United States want to make as much profit as possible, thus they choose to have their manufacturing plants overseas. But this example shows that you get what you pay for. One cannot have cheap labor, low cost, without sacrificing the quality of their product.

American companies probably see relief in that China has different regulation laws. They profit off of lax government regulations. For example, child labor and labor laws in general, are not enforced in certain countries. The problem with this is that if these laws are not enforced, how one can be sure that laws enduring quality and sanitation are enforced.

Are the companies only trying to survive in a market that demands low prices? It seems that the American people are demanding low prices and are trying to buy whatever they want regardless of quality. Is it the American people who are forcing companies to sacrifice quality for quantity? In the day of credit cards, do Americans realize they really do not need all that stuff, all those things that are sold cheaply at their local Wal-Mart? Is it really making their life better?

Karen said...

This is just another example of how animals are not being treated as the sentient beings they are, but as money-making commodities.

The misuse and mistreatment of animals is a dangerous and costly mistake—a mistake that can be measured in dollars and cents or human health and lives. As this article demonstrates, animals used in food production needs reform.

Earlier this month, over 143 MILLION pounds of beef was recalled after the Humane Society revealed (through an undercover investigation) that “downer” cows were be pushed into the food supply. “Downer” cows are cows too sick or injured to walk to the slaughterhouse. They are usually dragged, but in the case of this investigation, hoisted by forklifts to the slaughterhouse to prevent the loss of $300 to $400. These cows are often unable to walk to the slaughterhouse for a reason, and could be infected with numerous diseases. Humans are pushing contaminated meat into food supplies. “Downer” cows are one of the sources for “mad cow” disease.

In the case of this article, tainted heparin is being blamed for over 350 allergic reactions and at least four deaths. Heparin is extracted from pigs entrails. If the animals are sick, the disease is ground up with the rest of the intestines.

In addition to animal reform, more stringent regulations need to be implemented. That would force animal producers to treat animals more humanely in an effort to keep the animals healthy. More regulations would monitor the supplies and levels of disease and other harmful agents in food and medications. Regulations would also allow food or medication to be recalled more quickly once a problem is detected.

As consumers, we hold the power in our hand to demand the fair treatment of animals and push for more stringent regulations and controls over products being purchased. How? By what you purchase with your money. As the consumer, you vote with your money.
If you want companies to uphold high standards when testing products, buy from the company that raises the bar in testing standards. If you want animal abuse to stop, buy food and products from companies that strive to treat animals fairly and humanely. If you want produce free of pesticides, buy organic produce or produce from local farmers markets.

Vote with your money—endorse the companies that reflect your views, and don’t endorse the companies with which you disagree.
This is one way to close loopholes in regulation, testing and legislation.

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