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Nov 11, 2008 07:15 PM

Chinese ingredients

I love down-home, preferably H-K style, Chinese food.

I also love staying healthy and am not--unlike the rest of you--as young as I used to be!

So, human rights considerations aside for the moment, I'm really uneasy about eating in Chinese restaurants these days, given the numerous food-related scandals that have occurred recently and the likelihood that a great many ingredients, both obvious and not so, are undoubtedly imported.

I don't know if this is the right place to post this or if it will run into the powers that be at C-hounds' objections to anything that speaks to the health/nutrition/safety aspects of dining.

Interested in any thoughts, suggestions.

If you think I'm hyper-concerned, please don't be rude about it.

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  1. OK to be concerned given the new reports, but really, these days it seems like a crapshoot no matter what prepared food you buy, from anywhere. Including the USA. The China milk crisis notwithstanding, it does seem that the media enjoys scaremongering to some degree.

    1. You're going to die eventually.

      And when you do, might as well go down having lived life to its fullest.

      Life's short. Eat what you like.


      1. The HK government does a good job in informing the populace about food safety:

        The monthly Food Safety Focus letter is particularly useful.

        1. With the exception of maybe certain condiments, I can't think of many foods in Chinese restaurants around here that come exclusively from where quality and safety might be of concern.

          Vegetables, meats and seafood are all sourced from domestic producers or distributors, even popular condiment brands are produced in the U.S. as well.

          I still think the scare over Chinese products exclusively stinks of a bit of xenophobia. Like The Professor said, food safety these days is not just a Chinese issue.

          3 Replies
          1. re: fuuchan

            I was "guilty" of not mentioning my locale--San Francisco; where do you refer to when you say "around here," fuuchan?

            I know some of the places we used to visit often used various imported seafood products, who knows what dehydrated or preserved ones, and, of course, almost exclusively condiments from the PRC.

            As I mentioned, I love and have eaten countless times at purveyors of H-K style Chinese food. Of course contamination occurs everywhere, but there's a difference between food poisoning outbreaks that are usually caught pretty fast and publicized, be it canaloupe, cheeses, strawberries, or other--almost always in a specific crop or other foodstuff--and the pervasiveness of such slower-to-detect additives as melamine or dangerous additives to feeds. Also, the former are often more accidental than purposeful.

            It's a lot easier to fire an employee or correct a sanitation problem than it is to stop the apparent wide-spread pratcice of "beefing" up protein content by desperately poor folks.

            I'm bemoaning the loss of my favorite dining-out experiences and looking for some reassurance that I may hope to return someday to eating Chinese food without having my heart in my mouth. Hardly xenophobic. Just mournful.

            1. re: Fine

              It's not only Chinese restaurants that are affected by this. A lot of animal feed comes from China, so unless you are eating exclusively organic food you may well be exposed anyway.

              Good overview here:

              1. re: mogo

                Thanks so much.

                We do eat 99% organic at home and the rare occasions I eat flesh, it's organice and/or grass fed.

                We also garden organically.

                If I weren't so crazy about Chinese food, I'd be more sanguine about my personal risks. Fortunately, more and more restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area, where I happen to live, use local and organic produce and offer some organic flesh. But not the down-home (or, to the best of my knowledge any) Chinese ones. Sigh.

                The "you have to die of something" line offered by another poster always seems to come from someone for whom death seems a distant event; my reply is always, "I don't want my last thought to be 'I did this to myself'!"

          2. I live in China and like locals deal with the food safety concerns constantly. The best defense is common sense, and I always get food that is fresh and unprocessed as possible and take care when washing and preparing it. When I eat in restaurants I look for signs that they do the same.

            Things like sauces and condiments I have to trust the system to protect, and I know it is taking a chance since we've just seen from the milk scandal that that the system can easily fall down, however there is labelling for organic and for standard quality processing that consumers know to watch for. At almost the same time that the milk scandal was breaking the listeriosis outbreak in Canada happened, so there is no perfect protection from food-related health problems.