North Koreans No Longer Trust Food Imported from China

Police inspect illegal cooking oil seized during a crackdown in Beijing on Aug. 2, 2010. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)
Police inspect illegal cooking oil seized during a crackdown in Beijing on Aug. 2, 2010. (STR/AFP/Getty Images)

Tainted food exported from China to North Korea is ruining the friendship between the two communist countries. An information source from Pyongyang revealed that North Koreans no longer trust food or food ingredients produced in China.

The source revealed to Daily NK on Oct. 8 that the majority of soybean oil in the North Korea market is from China. Consumers learned recently that the Chinese-produced soybean oil is actually gutter oil, that is, nasty cooking oil recycled from restaurant waste.

Daily NK is a South Korea-based online newspaper focusing on issues relating to North Korea. The stories it reports are allegedly obtained from inside North Korea via a network of informants.

“Now North Korean consumers are willing to spend more to buy soybean oil from Southeast Asian countries instead.” The source said, “The price of a 5-liter (1.3 gallon) bottle of Chinese soybean oil is 4.5 to 5 U.S. dollars, while the soybean oil produced in Southeast Asia is about 6 U.S. dollars.”

He further explained that North Koreans used to think that food made in North Korea was clean and safe, but now they know that many food ingredients are imported from China, a country notorious for tainted food products.

“More and more consumers, especially women concerned with the health of their children, stopped buying foods containing Chinese-produced ingredients, such as sausages,” he said.

Another information source from China confirmed that Chinese-produced soybean oil exported to North Korea is indeed gutter oil, adding that the North Korean trading company that purchased the oil from China deliberately specified that they wanted cheap gutter oil.

“The boss of the North Korean trading company asked for gutter oil, and the company then sells the oil to food processing factories. As a matter of fact, some employees in the trading company openly claimed that they would not eat any food produced in North Korea,” the Chinese source said.

The illegal practice of recycling gutter oil and selling it to restaurants and consumers was widely exposed around 2010.

He Dongping, a professor at Wuhan Polytechnic University, told Chinese state media in 2010 that China consumes about 22.5 million tons of cooking oil annually, while the annual production of cooking oil in the country is less than 20 million tons. Therefore, he estimated that Chinese people consume about 2.5 million tons of gutter oil every year. There are serious health concerns associated with gutter oil, as it is usually contaminated with bacteria, fungi, toxins such as lead, and carcinogens benzopyrene and aflatoxin.

Russia Lashed Out About Harmful Shrimp from China

Chinese people usually refer to North Korea as China’s “communist little brother,” while Russia is called China’s “communist big brother.” These two terms are still used today, nearly two decades after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, because the Chinese regime still treats Russia as a close ally when it needs to ward off condemnation from international society.

Unlike North Koreans, who quietly handle the issue of tainted food from China, Russian authorities openly lashed out about frozen shrimp imported from China.

The Federal Agency for Fishery in Russia announced in September last year that it conducted 25 inspections of frozen shrimp on the market, and none passed the food safety standards. Frozen shrimp in Russia is mostly imported from China, and a small percentage is imported from Vietnam.

The agency claimed that the shrimp from China contained harmful chemicals from an obnoxious fishing environment as well as overdoses of antibiotics and growth hormones.

“(These seafood products) are nasty and toxic, the feeds Chinese and Vietnamese fish farmers use even contain disgusting waste such as pig manure,” said Alexander Savelyev, head of the Fisheries Information Agency. “They also use large quantities of antibiotics and growth hormones in fish and shrimp farms. We are spending money buying gross food products from them, produced out of greediness.”

As a communist country, China has very few friends in the international community. However, even the communist brotherhood relationships are now at risk, as the tainted food scandals are eroding the country’s “friendship forged in blood” with North Korea and its longstanding friendship with Russia.

By Olivia Li

From The Epoch Times

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