Tuesday, November 06, 2007

The Chinese Peeps

No matter how old you are, you should sometimes do some silly things. Life is so much better when you have some fun now and then. For many, many years, in that spirit I have hidden pink and yellow “Peeps” around the house at Easter time for my better half to find. She loves them.

It was with some distress that I read the other day, then, that the manufacturer of “Peeps” had contracted to a Chinese manufacturer the production of Halloween candy, and that it was a prelude to them making “Peeps” for Easter. As far as I am concerned, that probably means the end of “Peeps” in our household, because I have vowed never to purchase or consume anything made in China that you eat or which touches the skin. This vow, of course, is due to the stream of incidents involving Chinese-made products that have poisoned thousands of people and animals around the world – products that were accidentally or deliberately contaminated with solvents and other materials not fit for consumption.

You may not have noticed that, in addition to contaminated toothpaste, quite often your friendly supermarket is stocking shrimp and fake “Bay” scallops that come from China. I’m sure, though, that you have noticed the almost weekly recalls of lead-paint contaminated toys many Chinese manufacturers are shipping here for our infants to put in their mouths and chew; this is what infants do. Most major American toy makers contracted some or all of their toy manufacturing out to Chinese firms, and they have lived to regret it.

“Scary thought? 'Halloween Peeps' made in China”
Company made decision to outsource before tainted-products scandal erupted

Associated Press
Published on: 10/30/07

Philadelphia — The maker of Peeps — the fluffy, yellow, marshmallow chicks that have spawned a fanatical following — has tapped an overseas manufacturer to make candies for the first time in the company's history.

Just Born Inc. is making its Spooky Friends treats for Halloween in China.

That could be frightening for American consumers concerned about products made in China, which has been hit by a series of recalls of substandard goods and lead-tainted toys. An August poll by the Associated Press found that most Americans believe the U.S. government is not doing enough to ensure that Chinese imports are safe.

Bethlehem-based Just Born said it was making the foray into outsourcing for the first time in its 84-year history because its plant in Bethlehem cannot individually wrap the Spooky Friends candies. The company found a factory in China that can do the job and meets their quality standards.

Privately owned Just Born said it wanted to make sure there's demand for the product before investing in equipment to make the treats in the United States.

"It's expensive and we wanted to make sure we have a viable product before we'll source it here," said Kathy Bassininski, vice president of brand development and corporate services.

Just Born has sold out this Halloween's entire inventory of Spooky Friends to retailers. The company will find out later whether shoppers went for the marshmallow candies, which come shaped like pumpkins, bats, ghosts, and spiders.

Just Born made the decision to test outsourcing last year, before the Chinese products scandals hit.

The candy maker said its popular Peeps and most of its other confectionery will continue to be manufactured in Pennsylvania.

National Confectioners Association spokeswoman Susan Fussell said it's not uncommon for candy makers to manufacture abroad, often in Canada and Mexico.

Editorial Note: Hopefully no-one will have been poisoned by Just Born’s Halloween candies, and this company will reconsider its decision to place its future and the lives of its customers in the hands of Chinese industry.
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