Bing Blog

Don't forget to brush with antifreeze, Jimmy!

Kid Brushing Teeth

Capitalism is a hard system to learn. For a lesson in some developmental issues newly emerging free-market economies may face, it's possible one may be required simply to think about China for a few moments.

Before we do, I hasten to state that all the parties involved in the issues I'm about to raise deny any wrongdoing and may, in fact, be totally innocent of anything other than bad marketing, bad luck or bad press.

But those who enjoy spotting trends and patterns in the chaotic world around us may at least pause for a moment at this conceptual kiosk.

For a long time, it's been clear that, when it comes to intellectual property rights, the Chinese are as communal as an ashram of Internet hipsters. The content belongs to the people. Right on. Like that.

Then came the whole tainted pet food thing, in which once again, it appears, subject to further investigation, a Chinese entity is implicated. Who would make the decision to ship a non-edible substance as a way of cutting down the cost of fabricating dog food? Someone lacking in judgment, perhaps? A mistake, possibly. A person under a lot of pressure to make the third quarter numbers, maybe? The kind of pressure we don't know about over here, even on Madison Avenue?

Now today's New York Times reports that Chinese authorities are investigating whether some companies there loaded a toothpaste meant for children with diethylene glycol, which is a component in antifreeze and is poisonous to everyone but cars. More than 36,000 tubes of Mr. Cool Junior in bubble gum and strawberry flavors have been seized by the Dominican Republic. Tubes found in Panama reportedly contain nearly 5% antifreeze. What could be the explanation for that? Someone who doesn't know the difference between glycerine and diethylene glycol, a guy suffering from some rare form of dyslexia? A badly-communicated order to an underling striving to do six jobs at once? Interestingly, the Mr. Cool Junior has yet to turn up in the United States, having been sent at this point mostly to Latin America. So somebody was clearly thinking about distribution issues and possible consequences. Or maybe not. Sometimes, you know, it's tough to keep things straight when you're busy.

To their credit, the Chinese authorities in all cases are in the lead in all investigations, but it just makes you sort of wonder, doesn't it?

Every business climate has its egregious miscreants. Here in the United States, we produce Lays and Kozlowskis and a foreign policy machine that seems to upset a lot of people around the world. The French sell just about anything to anybody willing to pay the price, and I'm not talking about mustard. The Russians put the occasional isotope in cream-of-mushroom soup and have passed a law legalizing certain forms of assassination on foreign soil. Africa is full of children killing children. So sanctimonious finger pointing is uncalled for.

Still... children's toothpaste?  

23 Comments Add Comment

Isn't this why the Republicans wanted to ship all the jobs out of the country, or was this trickle-down global economics. The worst is yet to come. Welcome to the New World Order!!!

This is problem with outsourcing everything and then not having any govt. inspectors checking anything. At least in the USA people who did these kind of things went to jail...eventually. In other places they probably will get off scott free

AS punishment for this crime the people involved shoulkd be made to bruch their teeth with this wonder toothpaste.

"To their credit, the Chinese authorities in all cases are in the lead in all investigations, but it just makes you sort of wonder, doesn’t it?"

No - they're not. The Chinese authorities took weeks to acknowledge the melanine fiasco, and when the US FDA inspectors got to China to inspect those factories, they were mysteriously bulldozed.

Now search back a few months (years?) to another diehtylene glycol/glycerin "mistake" in which hundreds of victims in Panama died from cough syrup containing antifreeze - also of chinese origin - not due to being busy, but due to outright fraud. Chinese authorities won't prosecute because the manufacture of these chemicals didn't fall under any of their jurisdictions.

I've had it! I've been exposed to Chinese manufacturing processes and their issues since 1993 while a buyer at P&G. I did one of the first China projects for P&G. That this is happening is anything but a surprise for people who engage at a system level with products made there regularly. The company I work for now troubleshoots products having problems for companies like and including P&G. There are a LOT of unrevealed problems.

Publicly, CPSC data shows that Chinese products are recalled at a rate at least twice the proportion of imports. There is simply no way this wasn't going to show up and that it won't get worse. The Chinese lie and cheat even when the big multi-nationals tell them which materials to use. The minute your back is turned, they do what they want.

Food imports should be cut off, period. There is no way to ensure safe products from the Chinese wild west. Now that we're dependent, we are relying on the Chinese government regulation systems in which we can have exactly zero trust and over which we absolutely NO political control.

I don't think it was the Republicans. Pretty sure it all started with Bill Gates, Michael Dell, et al technology companies back during the Clinton era.

I've lived in Korea and traveled to China. Trust me when I tell you they don't care.

Apparently the Chinese do not have the equivalent of our Food and Drug Administration. Although the FDA does move slowly in approving things for our consumption, it does do its job. This is the big bug of contention from U.S. drug manufacturers, that other countries cannot supply generic drugs, because they
do not meet our federal standards of safety. Case in point. Antifreeze ethylene glycol is sweet and cheap (kills pets when they accidentally consume it), who would guess it is toxic?? Obviously not those exporting this.

By "they" I meant China's government. South Korea is a wonderful place with wonderful people.

I loved visiting China and the people there were very nice too, but they are consumed by the all mighty dollar.

I'm just not surprised. I'm STILL patiently explaining that glycerin and glycerol are the same chemical to some of my colleagues, and some of them do speak English as a first language.

It apparently (well, I wouldn't think so, but my experience tells me otherwise) takes a special kind of brain to understand the language of chemistry.

Knowing this; we have the opportunity to make better judgements. If we continue to be treated with total disregard as consumers, it's our responsibility to make different choices.

Maybe we should check labels for country of origin, as well as calories, when it comes to anything meant to be ingested by any living thing.

Watching their television reveals an interesting spin on how they regard Westerners.


Please don't turn this into an anti-Republican or anti-Chinese issue. This started right here in the USA with corporate executives seeking bigger profits and bigger paychecks.

The answer is to use our existing systems and if necessary to create new avenues for preventing disasters and deaths. In other words, do not buy foodstuffs from Walmart, for example, if they don't come from a "clean" source and to prosecute those American companies (e.g. P&G) that import products without verifying them.

In a investigation by a chinese newspaper, the accidendant in panama, where by hundereds of kids died, was caused not by the chinese supllier but the panama buyer who re-labled contents. There are records with the panama custom. The panama investigation will soon reveal that. Any soverign goverment on earth will sit there waching hundereds of kids died without make a big criminal investigation and law suits aginst the frauster.
Just wait and see the investigation reswult before making any judgement

Pragmatism rules in China. Whatever to sustain their national interest. Not that we Americans as a country are different, especially towards other countries. But, China is not bound by regulatioins and they are very near-sighted and functional - what is scary is that they have defocated so badly in their own back yard, it wouldn't surprise me to see them pragmatically seeking a new playpen after all their consequences begin to play out - the future indeed does not look bright - it would take a blind optimist to say it does.

Pansies, all of you. If your children aren't able to digest a little antifreeze here and there, how are they going to grow up and ingest their daily lot of corporate manure, the staple of our free market economy?

China still has relatively weak laws protecting consumers over corporate interest. Part of it has to do with the abundance of corruptions - government officials accepting bribery from corporate investors in protecting their business interest. In simple term, consumer safety isn't as much of a priority as economic growth.

While low cost electronics and clothings are welcomed, consumable products from China is something that I'd never use, at least not for the next 20 years...

The situation is worse inside china. A few years back, many babies got killed or sick because the milk powder the parents used don't contains protein. Every month, media in china or Hong Kong reports food with non-editable chemicals.

I would not expect the Chinese government to protect foreign buyers of its products any better than it protects the rights of its own citizens. No free speech, no right to worship as you please, what makes one think the Chinese regime is goin to care about "consumer" rights and safety. What's more, the U.S. trade policy with China hurts Americans because the Chinese peg the yuan to the dollar and thereby keep prices for Chinese goods artificially low while running huge trade surpluses with the U.S. Mark my words, we will regret this policy when the Chinese start to throw their weight -financial and otherwise - around.

yeah, the fake products by some dishonest Chinese producers destroy not only foreign customers, but mostly domestic ones. These practices must be stamped at no spare efforts and justice, those responsible should be punished. Chinese government and Chinese people detest and try hard to crack down any unlawful production, especially food.
But on the other hand, do not pretend to be sanctimonious. If you look around the world, the behavior of this sort are very common in almost all developing countries. if you focus on India, Latin America etc, nothing less serious is happening. Sure, in the early stage of western capitalist, same thing happened too. Everything is about poverty and money, if people in other parts of world enjoy the same luxury life like US people, nobody wants to do the evil.
Remember, not only western people care their lives, Chinese people also.
When you write blog, try to be impartial if you can.

O let me get this straight: teh reason teo globalize is to cut costs. The costs being cut are taxes and regulatory compliance. Yeah, you know those pesky things like inspections, content regulations, government safety oversight. Whiel the CHinese are culpable, so are our corporations for deliberately skirting regulatory oversight (they know this can happen but greed prevailed) and so is our government for letting them get away with it.

I am a Chinese born in Hongkong, and became a US citizen many years ago. I never bought anything made in China except clothing because I have no choice. It's difficult to find things made in the US anymore.It is true, THEY DON'T CARE as long as they make money.

This article is too hard to comprehend. The guy that writing it probably only wanted a few readers to be able to understand it. Let me read it again! Articles should be eyes catching, attention grabbing, people don't have time for this puzzle.

Well, it's only fair. We (meaning Bayer) did send AIDS and hepatitis tainted blood products around the world (after we quit selling them here because people were getting sick), resulting in a death sentence for thousands of hemophiliacs around the world. Perhaps the Chinese are just learning capitalism at the feet of the masters.

How long before people simply stop buying consumable products made in China? My family already has.