Going to China? Avoid the Milk

If you are not familiar with the well-publicized tainted milk in China story, here’s a brief summary. Melamine, a chemical that causes kidney stones, was found in baby milk. Well over 1,000 babies have fallen ill and there have been two reported deaths. The melamine has been found in products manufactured by Sanlu company, but traces have also been found in some of the milk produced by other companies, including a Shanghai-based ice cream maker.

Milk dealers (apparently there is such a thing) have been arrested as part of an operation to get to the bottom of the tainting. Several dealers altered their product to make it seem more valuable before selling it to Sanlu. Now the scandal has taken another twist. It appears that the provincial government in Hebei (where most of the milk originated) was involved in a cover-up effort by Sanlu. Bribery and facilitating the paying off of parents whose children had been stricken by kidney stones are among the charges.

So things are not all roses in China after the success of the Olympics. Luckily, it seems that officials are now on top of this one (too late?). Health inspectors usually give execmptions to larger food producers, visiting them only a fraction of the times they visit smaller operatiions. According to the Dongguan Times, that practice is now on ice and everyone is being inspected. Looks like the worst is over, but, if you’re headed to China anytime soon, you might want to avoid the milk.

“Bodies” exhibit: a personal experience

About two years ago, I saw the “Bodies” exhibit when it was in Cleveland. As I found out when reading Jaunted, there is a problem with the New York City exhibit. Perhaps, some of the people who were turned into plastic sans skin didn’t have a say in the matter.

In the exhibit literature I saw, there were many assurances that the people on display had agreed to be a museum piece before their deaths. There were detailed explanations about how the bodies were preserved. In general, I felt partly fascinated and partly uneasy. I was fascinated because this was a wonderful way to see how the body is put together and how the muscles and skeleton actually work.

The uneasy part came from human bodies being turned into sculptures. It’s not as if there was a check off list where the donor could make a request to be turned into a skateboarder or a ballet dancer. I’ve never been that flexible. It’s odd to think I could be made to look that way down the road and people could walk around me to catch a glimpse at all angles. One body where it looked as if the body had been exploded into hundreds of pieces, the pieces hung from fine threads from a metal frame, also gave me pause. My first thought was, what a nightmare to move. Can you imagine what it’s like to avoid tangles? It was cool for sure, but weird. I have to admit, I did like it.

People do have an interest in weirdness. We like being fascinated and slightly repulsed at the same time. In this case, big money has been made, and the integrity of the exhibits, perhaps, are not as pristine as we would hope. There are nine more besides the one in New York City.

I’m surprised that it’s taken so long for people to get to the bottom of where exactly all these bodies have come from–although it may be one or two tainted bodies have slipped in from China through the cracks in an otherwise well thought out system. Just like some toys and toothpaste from China were found to be dangerous, not all. But, like toothpaste, a body may be questionable. The majority of the bodies, however, may be legitimate, and a chosen few get to look in death as if they could soar over buildings in a single bound.