China’s Former Food and Drug Chief Executed

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A bribery scandal involving at least 31 people culminated in the execution of China’s former food and drug chief; the most senior Chinese official to receive the death penalty in seven years.

Zheng Xiaoyu, 62, was convicted of taking bribes worth some 6.5 million yuan ($850,000) and also for approving substandard medicine that was reportedly blamed for at least 10 deaths.

The former food and drug chief’s death sentence got the netroots chattering. According to one report, bloggers and other writers demanded a stiff sentence for Xiaoyu because of scores of deaths in recent years from fake drugs and food products tainted by industrial chemicals that he may have approved.

But Xiaoyu is not the only problem China’s State Food and Drug Administration has. China’s consumer product quality-control systems have been called into question as of late due to incidents ranging from fake drugs to chemical-tainted food, as China has opened its economy.

For example, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration linked poisonous ingredients from China to a massive recall of pet food and animal feed in the past two months. The pet food has been blamed for the deaths of thousands of pets, according to unconfirmed reports that pet owners have made to the FDA.

In addition, an industrial chemical, found in medicines that contained ingredients from China, has been blamed for dozens of deaths in Central America and the Caribbean. The chemical was also found in Chinese-made toothpaste that reportedly contained diethylene glycol falsely labeled as glycerin, the same poison that the Panamanian government mistakenly mixed into cold medicine last year, killing at least 100 people there.

The question on some people’s minds now is how China will safegard food at next summer’s Olympic Games.

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Corrupt leaders the world over can (and will) try to shut down the truth, but when the truth has millions of people on its side, you can't keep it down for good. And there's no more powerful or urgent argument for your support of Mother Jones' journalism right now than that. We need to raise about $450,000 to hit our online fundraising budget in these next few months, so please read more from Monika and pitch in if you can.

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