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"China-free" dog food bears all the hallmarks of bias and discrimination

By Curtis Stone (People's Daily Online)    15:09, March 30, 2018

Is a U.S. pet food company using food safety as an excuse to fan the flames of anti-Chinese sentiment and promote Tibetan independence? Richmond News, a newspaper in Richmond, British Columbia, Canada, recently reported that residents were offended to discover a brand of dog food with the label “no ingredients from China.”

The brand in question, The Honest Kitchen, a producer and supplier of pet food products and supplies based in San Diego, California, United States, has been promoting its “China-free” slogan since at least 2012. The company’s website states that “we make ALL of our cat and dog foods without ingredients from China – nothing, zip, nada!”

But as the report points out, Chinese are offended that a pet food brand essentially defines “quality” as “not from China.”

“I felt offended when I saw the package and I don’t feel very comfortable that a product like this exists in the market,” Richmond resident Lily Du was quoted as saying by the newspaper. A different resident, Ekki Wang, told the newspaper, “I strongly felt this is discrimination against the Chinese nation and the slogan has crossed the line.”

A spokesperson for the company reportedly said the “no ingredients from China” label reflects the brand’s food safety control and is not against any country, citing “the pet food recall” in the United States in 2007 as the reason.

China has had food safety issues. Xinhua News Agency reported that in 2008, infant formula produced by the Sanlu Group, a leading dairy firm in northern China, was found to have contained melamine, which caused death of six babies. China has been improving the safety of food products ever since, including the enactment of the nation’s first Food Safety Law in 2009.

It is ridiculous to judge China’s food quality based on the melamine pet food recall, especially in the face of new facts. China places high value on food safety and has been making great efforts to improve the quality and safety of its food. Its actions against the Chinese people show that it is not "honest" at all.

Food safety is a global concern. Both the United States and Canada for instance have had serious food safety incidents, including a deadly bacterial outbreak from bagged spinach in the United States in 2006 and a listeriosis outbreak linked to ready-to-eat meats in Canada in 2008. More recently, there was global panic over millions of “poisoned eggs” from Europe, and up to 53,154 pounds of raw beef products contaminated with Salmonella were recalled in the United States, and the list goes on.

The point being, it is offensive and wrong to define “healthy” as “not from China,” especially for a business that reportedly makes $30 million a year in revenue, some of which comes from Chinese customers.

But there is another question to consider. What does the “Free Tibet” slogan have to do with food safety? If this is really an issue about food safety and nothing else, why put the “Tibetan flag” next to the message: “0: The number of food ingredients we use from China (P.S., Free Tibet!).” The argument that the “no ingredients from China” label is not against the Chinese people simply does not hold water, because there is clearly a political motivation.

With that said, a persuasive argument can be made that trying to build a brand around such political slogans has little to do with food safety and much to do with promoting an anti-Chinese agenda. And, as recent events have shown, making oneself an enemy of the Chinese people is not the right way to do business.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)
(Web editor: Wu Chengliang, Bianji)

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