Good luck on finding out where toothpaste, other goods are made

Published 1:32 pm Tuesday, June 5, 2007

By now, surely you have heard or read the reports about the poisonous toothpaste and cold medicine manufactured in China.

So far, the cold medicine apparently is sold primarily in Panama and the Chinese are blaming the Panamanians for the poisonous stuff. The toothpaste, though, may be on the shelves here.

Good luck in learning where toothpaste is manufactured, though. A check of the shelves at a couple of stores find the information that most toothpaste products are distributed by this company or that company from locations in the United States. There is nothing on many products to indicate where they are manufactured.

That isn’t to say some companies don’t say where there products supposedly are manufactured. Products from a few brands indicate where those particular products may be manufactured. I found toothpaste boxes that said this product was manufactured in Mexico, others that mention the “UK,” which presumably is the United Kingdom, and a few in the United States.

That isn’t to say that even some others don’t have their manufacturing locations disclosed, but the print is so small that the information, if it is there, is hard to find. It’s hard to find even on the ones that I found that did disclose where the product is manufactured.

The problem with the “manufactured in …” disclosures, though, is that where all the ingredients came from isn’t disclosed. Think on the deadly pet food. It was manufactured in Canada, but the deadly ingredient came from China.

With what all has been learned about China recently, I think it is time that we require manufacturers — and “distributors” — to disclose where those products that we consume, what we put in our mouths, that could poison us are manufactured. Further, the companies should be required to disclose where the ingredients came from, and for those that pass through several countries, to disclose every stop along the way.

I can hear the manufacturers and distributors whining and crying right now. Such disclosure, they will say is too expensive. The U.S. Chamber of Commerce and every other business organization will join in — and they will put their lobbying money up at the same time to buy enough votes in Congress to stop any legislation that would require such disclosure from advancing.

Personally, I consider the use of lobbying money in the manner in which it is used today to be just another form of bribery and graft. However, Congress makes the laws and as long as incumbents depend on lobbying money to pay for their re-elections, the U.S. Senate and the U.S. House of Representatives are not going to vote for any such disclosure requirements, nor is it going to make all forms of bribery and graft illegal.

In the meantime, Americans must face the fear of being poisoned by products from China, products that they have no way of identifying where they come from so that they may avoid them.

We will continue paying the highest prices for prescriptions of any civilized, or uncivilized, country in the world. The lobbyists have bought all the votes.

I wonder sometimes how high our prescription and other medical costs would be if lobbyists were not able to pour all that money into political coffers. I think medical and other costs would be lowered in two ways —first, the manufacturers would charge less for the products because they don’t have to put so much money into lobbying and secondly, the costs could come down because then our senators and representatives would have little or no incentive, in the form of legal bribes, not to vote in a way that would actually benefit us, or “we, the people.”

For the moment, though, I think that all consumable products from China, and all consumable products containing ingredients from China, should be barred from entering the United States. All the hoopla surrounding the deaths of all the cats and dogs and surrounding the fact that some of the same materials may have entered the human food chain in this country and this latest bit about deaths elsewhere from toothpaste and cold medicine might be enough of an outcry to overcome any amount of money the manufacturers and distributors of the deadly products can shovel into political coffers.

I don’t know, though. The outcry of escalating medical costs, especially those associated with astronomical prescription drug prices, has been loud and has been ongoing for a number of years. Still, Congress sits on its hands.

The outcry over illegal immigration has been ongoing for a number of years and growing louder by the day, and all Congress and the president will consider is amnesty by a different name, but amnesty just the same. The outcry over high fuel prices almost deafens us to everything else, still, little is being done on the federal level.

What’s the old saying, “money talks and …,” well I guess we are being reminded of the truth of that statement every day.

Meanwhile, read your toothpaste and cough medicine labels in an effort to find safe products, and wait on the next revelation of a poisonous product with Chinese connections, a revelation that appears to be sure to come.