I'm not a particularly anxious mom. I certainly am not in Hong Kong, where people run around scrubbing things with anti-bacterial wipes and then get all paranoid about whether anti-bacterial wipes are dangerous. One woman -- not exaggerating -- told me to not accidentally lick my fingers after using a wet wipe in case the tiny, tiny miniscule amount of alcohol on it might hurt my pregnancy. (I declined to tell her I still enjoy the odd glass of wine).
I'm the kind of mom who lets her daughter eat with her fingers. While she has a healthy, balanced diet, I am not the sort of food fascist who freaks out because the kid stole a rare French fry, or not everything in our grocery cart is 100% organic.
But I put my foot down this morning when I pulled out a packet of minced Chinese chicken from my fridge. I looked at it and my instinct said, "Throw it out. Don't give that to the kid or eat it yourself." So, with a small child and a pregnant mom at home, I made the decision that we were simply not buying any Chinese poultry or meat any more -- no matter if the imported stuff is far more expensive, no matter if the rather crappy local TASTE has no other good options and we have to commute over to another MTR stop for our groceries. After all, the entire country of Vietnam has just sworn off Chinese poultry in light of the most recent human avian-flu deaths -- shouldn't I?
I'm including what is marketed as "locally slaughtered pork." Many years ago, I interviewed the last remaining traditional butcher in Soho, and wrote an I.H.T. story about it. (I actually just reread that lovely little piece -- I miss doing that sort of writing, which I don't have time for today.) Anyway, that's when I learned that the meat described as "locally Hong Kong slaughtered" is actually from the mainland. The pigs are shipped down before dawn and, technically, they are cut into pieces in Hong Kong. But they were born, fed and raised on the mainland. I'm not saying that all Chinese meat is tainted -- only that it's misleading advertising, when people think they're buying a Hong Kong product.
Agence France-Presse and the SCMP have just reported a third human death in China from the newest strain of bird flu. While Chinese experts say that numbers are low and that the virus doesn't usually jump -- yeah, are these the same Chinese experts who hid SARS news for so long, to disastrous global effect?
Here's my question to my Hong Kong (or other) blog friends. Are you still eating Chinese meat? Were you eating it before anyway? Will you continue buying it at local markets / supermarkets, given the scare? Are you all splurging on the imported U.S. / Australian stuff?
Do you only avoid Chinese meat at home, or also out -- since almost all local restaurants serve it?
Am I being cautious and wise, or paranoid?