Health food maker promotes "China-Free" products

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - It’s bound to go down the wrong way in Beijing: A U.S. health food company will label its products “China-Free” to ease concerns about contamination.

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Food for Health International, based in Orem, Utah, makes whole food nutritional supplements for people and pets, and President Frank Davis said the company will begin trumpeting the fact none of its ingredients come from China.

Plans call for a “China-Free” sticker on products such as Food for Health’s “9 a Day-Plus” capsules, “Active Adults” whole food shakes and “Healthy Dog” supplements. The company also will use “China-Free” in advertisements and promotions.

“It is a response to the (headlines) coming out, and we are taking a position that we are not the only ones reading them,” Davis told Reuters, referring to news stories detailing contaminated products linked to Chinese manufacturing.

Food for Health’s products are made from organically grown foods processed and packaged in the United States without chemical additives, company executives said.

Consumer awareness that products from China may be tainted has greatly increased in recent months since contaminated pet food made by Canadian-based Menu Foods Income Fund and other manufacturers made its way onto U.S. retail shelves.

The food, tainted by the industrial chemical melamine from China, was sold in more than 100 brands and is being probed as the possible cause of illness and death in thousands of pets.

The scare has put a spotlight on food items and chemicals from China, ranging from fruits and vegetables to toothpaste and phone batteries, and it has heightened global scrutiny of products with ingredients from that country.

China has tried to rein in substandard food and drug makers, and just last month a government agency said it shut down 152,000 food processors in 2006 alone.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires seafood to be labeled showing its origin, but not meats and produce. While government officials, manufacturers and consumers are all discussing ways to better label products, no group yet appears to have come up with a “China-Free” promotion.