Latest product scandal exposed by state media: medicine capsules made from leather scraps
April 16, 2012Jing Gao5 CommentsCCTV, CHINA CENTRAL TELEVISION, Chinese milk scandal, food additive, food industry, food scandal, food scare, gelling agent, industrial gelatin, leather capsule, leather milk, poison, product safety, Southern Metropolis Daily, tainted milk, Wen Jiabao
For years, underground workshops in China have been bleaching worn-out leatherwear and leather scraps with lime, processing them into a gelling agent and selling it to manufacturers of medicine capsules, according to an investigative report by China Central Television. Such capsules contain a high level of chromium, which, as a heavy metal, may damage people’s kidneys and liver, or even cause cancer.
“Heavy metal Chromium exceeds standard”
“Industrial waste of leather –> Industrial galatin –> Medicine capsules”
Gelatin is a gelling agent extracted from animal protein widely used in food, such as yogurt and gummy bears. But a CCTV news program revealed Sunday that industrial gelatin illegally made from waste leather is transported to plants in the country’s biggest capsule manufacturing area in east China’s Zhejiang Province, where one third of the country’s capsules are made.
Leather scraps used to make gelatin are in fact leftover bits and pieces of the industrial leather-making process and therefor are very cheap, priced at a few hundred yuan per ton. Capsules made from industrial gelatin can reduce the cost of capsule production dramatically. Leather capsules are priced at 40 yuan (US$6.3) per 10,000 capsules, compared to regular capsules at 100 yuan. These low-cost and yet hazardous capsules are eventually headed for pharmaceutical companies all over the country and used to enclose medicines.
CCTV sent some 13 types of medicines that used leather-made encapsulation for lab tests. The results showed that all 13 samples, produced by nine companies, contained chromium in excess of the country’s standard – 2 milligrams per kilogram – and some contained 90 times more.
Substandard medicines containing excessive chromium are made public by CCTV.
It is not the first time the country heard about industrial gelatin being used for manufacturing products that end up in people’s stomachs. Last week, a CCTV anchor named Zhao Pu briefly mentioned the illegal use of leather scraps in the food industry on Weibo by posting, “Comrades, please eat no more yogurt (solid type) or jelly. Especially children. The inside story is very scary. Prefer not to discuss it in detail.” Later, Zhu Wenqiang, a reporter from the Economic Observer, shared Zhao’s post, saying that yogurt might contain industrial gelatin made from discarded leather shoes. The two posts were relayed by hundreds of thousands of Weibo users, causing public scare over yogurt and jelly. Sales may suffer from such words circulating on Weibo in the following weeks, according to China Daily.
After being drenched for three or four hours, leather scraps turn cleaner and softer.
A leather-cleasing machine is washing leather scraps.
Leather scraps are soaked in the pond for three to five days.
Workers have to manually sort out washed leather scraps. Scums are discarded. Some scraps are headed back for re-washing.
The finishing product of industrial gelatin.
Selected comments from Sina Weibo:
小小松饼转转世：Living on this land, ignorance is bliss.
环保董良杰: This has aroused indignation from the entire country. If you have any of the medicines mentioned in this report, do not ever ever discard them all. Keep them along with the prescription and your diagnosis as evidence for your future lawsuit for compensation. Being too nice will foster shamelessness. Being too weak will nurture evilness. We gotta fight to the end this time.
田理何：Is this the so-called “Xiuzheng Pharmaceuticals, medicines with moral conscience?” (Advertising slogan of one of the pharmaceuticals)//@吃饭才胖: Living in the Heavenly Kingdom makes you want to scream “Motherf**ker.” //@启蒙民主: People in the Heavenly Kingdom inflict harm on one another.
i-UU儿：I am right now taking capsules~ Oh my god!
Simon_huang路过：I really hope that Comrade Wen Jiabao can speak out on this. Who can give us the sense of security? Better leave this country if you have the material resources!
vv大宝：There are so many f**king government regulatory bodies, and yet such an abhorrent thing happened!!!
冰凌晨星jack：Those damn xx Administrations and xx Agencies, calling you bastards will be an insult to this word. Goddamn it. They really don’t want people to survive!!!!
7自然之美7：How can ordinary people possibly survive?
我有道理我怕谁：In a society where men eat men, is fake medicine a big deal?!
南风餐厅：Where is their conscience?…良心何在啊……
Hacken-Hitler：Sigh…Chinese people are so awesome that they just won’t be killed by any poison.