Five O'Clock Somewhere

Welcome to Five O'Clock Somewhere, where it doesn't matter what time zone you're in; it's five o'clock somewhere. We'll look at rural life, especially as it happens in Rio Arriba County, New Mexico, cats, sailing (particularly Etchells racing yachts), and bits of grammar and Victorian poetry.

Sunday, July 01, 2007

Made in China? Beware!

The label should really read, “DANGER!”

In the past, I have been mildly uncomfortable buying products that have been made in China. Mostly, that easy-to-live-with unease has been vaguely about people, including prison inmates (maybe who committed “crimes” of dissent), forced to work in degrading conditions to crank out consumer goods to satisfy greedy American consumers. Yeah, I probably should care more, but with the rest of life happening all around me, it’s hard to get concerned.

But lately, what’s happening in China has become far more important, because it’s been affecting things closer to home. This winter, when Tres died, I at first thought it was ironic that he had died just after we had bought a whole case of canned food and a big bag of dry food for him. We had just wasted a whole lot of money for a cat who up and died after eating only two cans and a little bit of the dry food. About a week later, the story surfaced about the contaminated cat food, and we thought maybe that might have been Tres’ downfall. Then the story developed that the tainted ingredient was wheat gluten from China. That was a relief; the hypo-allergenic food that Tres had been eating had no wheat gluten. We gave some of Tres’ food to Zorro to give to a couple of his cats that had sensitive digestion.

Then one of Zorro’s cats keeled over for no good reason. About the same time, we learned that it wasn’t just wheat gluten, but also Chinese rice protein was contaminated. The special diet cat food was full of rice protein.

Lately, the story has been about tires. I have always been picky about the tires that go on my family’s cars. About 8 years ago, we had an incident with Firestone tires on a Ford Explorer; since then, I have never allowed a Firestone or Bridgestone tire on any car I or anyone I love drives. If at all possible, I drive on Michelins, and nothing else.

Because we drive a lot of places where the little-bitty-donut limited-service spare tire just doesn’t work, we got a full-service spare tire for El Caballero. We thought we were going all the way – we didn’t get a tire that was designed just for being a spare tire; we got a steel-belted “S” speed rated highway radial. When Tadpole damaged the right-front tire, we had cash-flow problems, so we couldn’t replace the Michelin right away, but even if the spare tire was of lesser quality, we figured it would do until we could gather up the cash to get new tires (the whole car was due for new tires soon anyway).

BUT that spare tire was a cheapo, made in China. Yeah, the current recall is about light-truck tires, but I’m willing to bet that the same Chinese manufacturer made the same shortcuts in passenger-car tires as it made in light-truck tires. The tire that failed on El Caballero looks exactly like the photos of the truck tires that have failed – the tread looks like someone has taken a knife to it. The insurance company has taken a special interest in this tire, and it is making a special investigation.

Meanwhile, I am actively avoiding anything that bears the label “made in China.” If you want more reasons behind my decision, read this article. The tough part is also avoiding anything that has ingredients from China, such as pet foods. Maybe manufacturers could have a label, “nothing from China,” similar to what tuna producers now have to proclaim “dolphin-safe.” I certainly don’t want to risk the health of the one cat I have left.

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Anonymous Jerry said...

Michelins certainly have a god reputation, but the OEM Michelins on the VW Jetta I had ALL failed with potentially catastrophic sidewall failures within 500 miles of each other.

Tue Jul 03, 01:04:00 AM MDT  
Blogger Carol Anne said...

Well, I'd get Pirellis if I could afford them ...

Wed Jul 04, 12:53:00 AM MDT  

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