Miss D. has sometimes wondered why I check packages of frozen fish and shellfish to see whether or not they were farm-raised and/or packed in China or the Far East. If they were, I won't buy them, due to the well-known hazards of deliberate chemical pollution. This isn't the only example of lax legal standards and a general collapse of morality among food producers in that part of the world. (For example, consider the Chinese milk scandal of 2008.)
The New York Times has just published an excellent overview of the problem.
Toxic preserved fruit is the latest item on China’s expanding list of unsafe food products. Baby formula adulterated with melamine is the best known, but there is also meat containing the banned steroid clenbuterol, rice contaminated with cadmium, noodles flavored with ink and paraffin, mushrooms treated with fluorescent bleach and cooking oil recycled from street gutters. A 2011 study published in the Chinese Journal of Food Hygiene estimated that more than 94 million people in China become ill each year from bacterial food-borne diseases, leading to about 8,500 deaths annually.
China’s food-safety problems highlight both the collapse of the country’s business ethics and the failure of government regulators to keep pace with the expanding market economy. Yet an excessive focus on poor government oversight often means that the much graver problem of disintegrating civic morality is neglected.
. . .
The destruction of Confucianism during the Cultural Revolution and the hollowing out of communism during the recent reform era left behind a vacuum of belief. This was quickly filled in by materialism.
. . .
[The] single-minded pursuit of material interests is now threatening China’s moral baseline. In a nationwide, online survey of nearly 23,000 adults last October, about 82 percent of respondents agreed that China has experienced a significant moral decline over the past decade ... more than half of the respondents also said they did not think that complying with ethical standards was a necessary condition for success.
There's more at the link. I highly recommend reading the whole thing. Follow the links I embedded in the first quoted paragraph to read more about the problems involved.
This is why, if I can help it, I won't buy foods made, processed or packaged in China. You simply don't know whether or not it's safe. I strongly advise my readers to do likewise.
(Put it this way - after reading the article cited above, and those I linked within it, if you still think it's safe to buy Chinese food exports, there's a bridge in Brooklyn, NYC I'd like to sell you. Cash only, please, and in small bills.)