It seems that the processed food industry has a lot in common between these two countries. Or perhaps its just better to say that corruption and greed have no language barriers.
The 2008 melamine tainted milk scandal in China has a surprising number of similarities with the Peanut Company salmonella scandal that is currently unfolding in the USA.
Both scandals were rooted in greed as the primary cause. SanLu, the Chinese company implicated in the scandal, did not want to lose any more money from increasing dairy production overhead. Likewise, the CEO of The Peanut Corporation, Stewart Parnell was motivated by similar intentions. He did not want to lose out on the value of recalled stock.
Both scandals were also fueled by lack of proper regulatory instruments. The FDA has been exposed as a paper tiger, and in China’s case local administrators urged the continued shipment of contaminated products. They were either paid off or were simply not equipped to do their jobs properly.
The punishment stage of the peanut scandal is not yet underway, so we will see how that goes. It is highly unlikely that Stewart Parnell will be executed by the state like Zhang Yujun and Geng Jinping have been sentenced.
One key difference in how things unfolded is the behavior of the press. While the typical ‘PANIC’ response within US media made more people aware of the situation, the Chinese sought to suppress information as to prevent rioting or other civil unrest.
Currently, Stewart Parnell is being grilled by a congressional subpoena, and more details have yet to be fully unraveled. He has taken the Fifth Amendment to avoid self incrimination on the sheer majority of questions asked. When confronted by Congressman Greg Walden (R), of Oregon, who held up a jar of peanut butter, an asked on a dare if he would eat his own product, Stewart again took the Fifth.
The lesson of the day if you are Stewart- If you’re under oath and a congressman dares you to eat something. YOU EAT IT!