Tuesday 9 December 2008

Not another made-in-China product recall - no, really

When you first heard that the Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority (AVA) is recalling another food product yesterday, did you think, "Oh great, what is China poisoning us with now?"

Were you surprised when it turned out China wasn't the guilty country this time?

It's the luck of the Irish. Bad luck, that is.

Last Saturday, Irish pork products were recalled because they were found to be contaminated with cancer-causing dioxin, creating another international food scare.

I was relieved.

And it's not because only a small percentage of pork in Singapore is imported from Ireland. The AVA has announced the recall and suspension of import and sale of all Irish pork products in Singapore.

The AVA also advises consumers who have bought Irish pork products to discard it and not consume the product.

In the first place, I didn't even know that Singapore imported anything from the Emerald Isle apart from U2 CDs and Irish pubs.

In the second place, I have no idea what country the meat I eat come from because it usually reaches me fully cooked without any accompanying documentation to indicate its country of origin. It's not like I can check the meat's passport.

Anyway, the reason I was relieved was that for once, the food scare was caused by a food product from somewhere other than China.

Because for a while, it seemed that everything made in the Middle Kingdom could kill you, either by lead or melamine poisoning.

I was further relieved that the poisonous pork wasn't from anywhere in Asia, but an "angmoh" country.

Not that I have anything against Ireland, mind you, as I'm deeply fond of leprechauns, Boyzone and the colour green, specifically in that order. I'm even hoping for a Sinéad O'Connor comeback.

It's just that every time some unsafe made-in-Asia product makes the news, I believe it also affects the reputation of Singapore in some way because we are part of Asia.

I cringe whenever an American comedian makes fun of another killer China product ("killer", get it?) because I would feel like I'm the one being denigrated.

I may be hopelessly Westernised and repulsed by anything "cina", but I'm still Chinese - even though I'm Singaporean.

To the American comedian, it's probably a distinction without a difference.

Now if there's any justice, there should Irish jokes about "ham-rocks" and such, but the reprieve will only be temporary.

By default, consumers around the world still thinks the words "Made in China" on a food label is synonymous with the word "poison". And this is not likely to change anytime soon.

In spite of the Irish.

- Published in The New Paper, 9 December 2009

I found the article written my S M Ong to be regrettable. He has missed the point that any food scare in the wold is a disaster. To say that he is relieved was thoughtless.

He should educate himself and find out that there is more to the Irish economy than exporting U2 CDs and pubs.

Ireland handled the problem as soon as it was discovered and I am not going to get into any discussion on how the Chinese government handled or did not handle the regrettable issues that have hounded them.

Neither am I going to discuss the fact that Singapore left an open window for one of South East Asia's most dangerous terrorists.

These problems are world-wide and we should never be happy to see them happen.

S M Ong should not tar all us "ang mohs" with his opinion as he seems to have a problem with an American comedian.

As an Irish citizen that has lived in Singapore for 14 great years and been here through the good and bad times, I will be leaving at the end of this year with a negative impression after this article.

I wonder what type of ambassador I will be for Singapore in my next posting.

Wayne Pohl