Counterfeit Chinese chemicals that laced the blood-thinner heparin have led to 19 deadly allergic reactions, according to the Food and Drug Administration.
The latest scandal involving tainted Chinese products is "eerily similar," as USA Today put it, to the pet food scandal. In both cases, a chemical was substituted for a main ingredient in a common product because it was cheap and eluded detection by commonly used tests.
In the case of pet food, it was melamine, an industrial chemical that appeared to be wheat gluten protein in tests. Pets across the country died.
In this case, the mixup may or may not be as sinister. All investigators know now is that a chemical almost identical to heparin was substituted for heparin, and that the substitute is the prime suspect in the allergic reactions that killed 19 people.
The FDA is responsible for policing imports of both drugs and about 80% of the U.S. food supply (the USDA is responsible for the rest). Agency officials have admitted that it isn't up to the task, and that just 1% of imports are inspected. As both the pet food and heparin scandals show, carefully manipulated, and deadly, products can elude even routine testing.
Here's a look at one take on the issue, from Today's Machining WOrld, a trade magazine.
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