Warning! Think Twice Before Eating These Foods From China

The United States conducts a lot of business with China. Beyond the millions of textiles and plastic products imported from our friends across the ocean, the US also brings in a variety of Chinese foods.

While plenty of foods exported from China are perfectly healthy, some products aren’t thoroughly vetted enough to be considered safe for consumption. Research surrounding some Chinese goods revealed serious health and safety problems with common products that could be in your kitchen right now. Take a look below at 20 bad foods exported from China that you should never eat.

1 Apple Juice

green apples

As one of the largest agricultural producers in the world, China’s booming industry uses some questionable methods to keep up with demand. China uses pesticides to grow many of their crops, and those harmful chemicals often make it into your apple juice.

A few popular brands of apple juice sold in the US from China have shown high levels of arsenic. The arsenic likely comes from the liberal use of pesticides in the growing of the apples.  If consumed often enough, the chemical element could cause serious health problems.

2 Cod

Person in Water With Fish
Sukree Sukplang/Reuters

While cod might be an easy choice to throw together a fish-themed dinner, the fish are raised in terrible conditions in China. The cod are thrown into small areas teeming with thousands of fish. Not only are these areas cramped and dirty, but they’re also filled with sewage and garbage.

In short, cod are raised in highly toxic conditions. When you eat the fish, you’re allowing some of that toxicity into your body. Take our advice—stay far away from cod imported from China.

3 Table Salt


While table salt is a common staple in your home, you’ll want to steer clear of salt imported from China. Although China is one of the top salt manufacturers in the world, the process they use to produce so much of this ingredient renders the salt unsafe for humans.

Chinese salt is commonly filled with metals and other substances that should never enter the human body. Since the large majority of Chinese salt is unsafe for consumption, the Chinese companies are supposed to sell the product as an industrial salt never used for cooking. However, many manufacturers have been passing off this unsafe industrial salt as table salt for years.

4 Watermelon

exploded watermelons
CBS News

Much like apples, watermelons grown in China are covered in pesticides. The pesticides are meant to help the watermelon grow at rapid rates, therefore increasing China’s exports to other countries.

However, pesticides often find their way inside the fruit. When digging into a China-exported watermelon, you’re likely filling your body with some of those harmful chemicals. It’s better to shop locally and purchase fresh watermelon to avoid getting sick from pesticide-laden fruit.

5 Garlic

garlic field
South China Morning Post

If you haven’t sensed a theme yet, here it is: pesticides are a big issue in China’s agriculture. The country doesn’t have any laws to regulate the use of pesticides, so farmers can use them at will to produce as many products as possible in a short amount of time.

The pesticides are particularly harmful to garlic. Garlic is incredibly absorbent and will soak up anything around it, including pesticides. If you’re eating garlic imported from China, your body is getting a huge hit of all those harmful chemicals. For your own health, stay far away from Chinese garlic.

6 Beef

chinese beef

In general, buying any kind of meat from China is not a good idea. Because of the manufacturing process, much of the meat is riddled with diseases that can make you seriously ill.

Chinese meat shops are known for their quick production and less-than-ideal safety standards, so much of the meat comes in contact with unwanted bacteria. In addition, Chinese meat shops have a tendency to mix multiple things together to create something that looks and tastes like beef, but isn’t really beef. If you’re buying beef from China, you might actually end up with a mix of chemicals, paraffin wax, and who knows what else.

7 Rice Noodles

rice noodles

If you’re going to make an Asian-inspired dish, rice noodles imported from China seem like the obvious choice. They add a little authenticity to your meal, and they generally taste quite good.

Unfortunately, the factories that produce rice noodles have been known to use sulfur dioxide. In theory, the chemical helps the noodles appear “fresh”. In practice, however, sulfur dioxide has been linked with cancer. Stay away from this harmful chemical and try to find a source for your noodles that’s a little closer to home.

8 Baby Formula

chinese baby formula

While you might be willing to take a few chances with your own health, you definitely shouldn’t risk the health of your child. Before you buy baby formula, check the label and make sure that the formula isn’t imported from China.

A few years ago, it was discovered that Chinese manufacturers were putting melamine, a product used in plastics, in baby formula. With the melamine, the baby formula appeared to be higher in protein. Consumed in high doses, however, the melamine can cause serious illness in infants. 

9 Milk

chinese milk

While baby formula contains melamine, imported milk from China contains just as much. If this chemical is consumed, it can cause serious damage to the kidneys.

Hundreds of thousands of people have fallen seriously ill after drinking milk imported from China. From young children to older adults, this substance can wreak havoc on the body. Keep yourself and your family safe by staying far away from imported Chinese milk.

10 Green Peas


High in fiber and antioxidants, green peas are a healthy choice in veggies. If you buy green peas imported from China, however, you can’t guarantee that you’re actually getting green peas.

Many of the green peas that come out of China were actually conjured up in a lab using a mix of products. Your bag of green peas might be a concoction of soybeans, snow peas, food bleaches, and preservatives. China’s green peas are rarely the genuine article. Not only are they filled with cancer-causing chemicals, but they also keep you from reaping the benefits of real green peas.

11 Rice


Much like rice noodles, buying rice exported from China seems like the obvious move. The Chinese eat rice with nearly every meal, so it has to be good… right? Sadly, that isn’t the case.

Many rice factories in China include a synthetic resin in their rice. Not only are you basically eating plastic, but the chemicals included in the resin are known to cause cancer. If you don’t want to eat plastic rice, try to find a brand that isn’t made in China.

12 Shrimp

China Dialogue Ocean

As with other seafood items from China, imported shrimp shouldn’t be at the top of your grocery list. A few years ago, the Institute of Environmental and Human Health food lab at Texas Tech University studied different bags of shrimp bought from different stores around the US. At the conclusion of their study, they reported that every sample was contaminated with enrofloxacin, chloramphenicol, and carcinogen nitrofurazone. 

Each of these substances is available in antibiotics that are illegal in the US. Due to the conditions in China, the shrimp are exposed to all of them. Consequentially, anyone who buys the shrimp then ingests those substances.

13 Tilapia

Hundreds in Fish In Small Tank
Earlham Institute

Tilapia may grace your table more often than cod, but this fish isn’t any safer if it’s coming from China. Much like cod, tilapia sit in tiny tanks teeming with fish. The water in the tanks is full of toxic chemicals and other damaging substances that you never want to put in your body.

If your fish is imported from China, don’t buy it. Before they end up on your dinner plate, the fish have spent their lives soaking up the chemicals around them. They’re perfectly primed to pass those chemicals to you, so shop with care if you’re planning a seafood-themed dinner.

14 Ginseng

Piles of Ginseng Roots

Much of the ginseng that exists in the US comes from China. This root product is one of the most common foods exported from the country. However, that certainly doesn’t mean it’s safe.

Greenpeace tested ginseng from China and found that every single product had some trace of pesticides or other harmful chemicals in varying amounts. Each root didn’t have just one chemical, either. Every root contained multiple chemicals known to be damaging to the human body. Since it might be difficult to find ginseng not imported from China, you may have to cut it out of your diet entirely to stay safe.

15 Cabbage

Cabbages In Crate
Wikimedia Commons

Although crop production somewhat depends on the season, Chinese farmers can’t afford to lose any of their crops, no matter how harsh the weather might be. During the hot summer months, cabbage becomes wilted and inedible. In order to keep their cabbage looking fresh during the hottest months of the year, farmers will spray the crop with a formalin solution.

While the solution keeps the crops looking fresh, it’s incredibly damaging to the body. The formalin is a solution of formaldehyde, and other chemicals used as disinfectants. If ingested, it can cause serious health issues. 

16 Canned Peaches

Canned Peaches in Store

While canned peaches aren’t the healthiest option anyway, those exported from China are especially damaging. However, it’s not what’s inside the product that makes these Chinese goods dangerous—it’s the can that they come in.

In a study conducted by Australian officials, the researchers discovered that the cans from China were bursting with lead. With twice the amount of legal lead in each can, the harmful substance is bound to infuse into the sugary peaches. The effects of lead poisoning are well-documented, including reduced muscle coordination and damage to your kidneys and nervous system. Avoid lead poisoning by avoiding canned peaches from China.

17 Canned Tuna

canned tuna

Much like canned peaches, canned tuna from China is known to come with a significant amount of lead hidden in the metal of the can. Believe it or not, that’s not the only reason you should avoid imported canned tuna.

In addition to the dangers of lead poisoning, canned tuna includes many of the harmful substances found in other fish exported from China. The fish farms are filled with pollution and toxic chemicals, and the fish are largely fed on a diet of animal waste. Each of those substances then finds its way into your can, threatening your health each time you buy a new supply.

18 Oil


While not all oil from China is tainted, the lack of security precautions and food safety laws make it far too easy for Chinese manufacturers to sell disgusting products. Their actions with oil are especially egregious.

A while back, a massive food company in China decided to take used oil from restaurants, filter it, repackage it, and sell it as new oil. If you’re buying oil from China, you might be purchasing recycled oil that has been “cleaned,” rather than new oil. Since you don’t know where that oil has been, it’s better to be safe and purchase oil not exported from China.

19 Mushrooms

chinese mushroom greenhouse
South China Morning Post

Tainted mushrooms coming out of China are common. Beyond soaking up pesticides like many other types of Chinese produce, the mushrooms are often mislabeled in order to drive up the price. Manufacturers will stamp normal mushrooms with an “organic” label, hoping to gain more profit for their work.

Beyond being filled with harmful chemicals, imported mushrooms are also sprayed with preservatives to appear fresher. Food inspectors have found many problems with mushrooms imported from China over the years. In our opinion, it’s not worth the risk. Buy your mushrooms from a different source and leave the Chinese mushrooms on the shelf.

20 Eggs


Many of the products we consume every day come from China, and the same goes for eggs. If you look closely, some eggs offered at your grocery store do not come from local farms!

However, you should check the origin of your eggs next time, and avoid buying those that come from China, because factories in that country use calcium carbonate and paraffin in their eggs. So, you risk poisoning if you eat them.

21 Lamb


It is not uncommon to hear that the Chinese eat strange things, and they are often suspected of not necessarily serving you the meat they claim to have cooked for you. Well, that’s the case with lamb.

If you want to buy lamb, and you see that it comes from China, abstain. In 2013, the police arrested 900 Chinese who were trying to pass off rats as lamb. They found 20,000 pounds of spoiled rat meat. You don’t want to eat that!

22 Tea

Boredom Therapy

The Chinese consume and produce a very large quantity of tea, so it is normal to think that buying tea from China can do no harm, quite the contrary, but this is not true.

Before you let yourself be tempted by the purchase of a tea from China, remember that it could very strongly contain nearly 30 toxic chemicals. In principle, these toxic teas are not exported out of the country, but it is better not to take any risks.

23 Wine

China Wine Competition

If you know anything about wine, you know that some regions of the world are more famous than others in this field. Needless to say, China is not one of them.

Wines made in China are of course made from grapes, as elsewhere, but they also contain sugar, dyes and artificial flavors.

24 Pork

Giao Duc

In China, people consume more pork than beef for a very economical reason: pork is almost half the price! However, this is a very bad idea.

To remedy this situation and try to sell more pork, Chinese companies are adding borax-filled additives to their pork to make it look like beef. This is a great way to fool consumers while endangering their health!

25 Soy Sauce

Bottles of Soy Sauce
Wikimedia Commons

Despite its high sodium content, soy sauce is probably a staple in your fridge. It’s the perfect condiment to toss onto white rice, or it can add flavor to your favorite Asian-inspired dish.

Unfortunately, soy sauce imported from China is known to have 4-Methylimidazole, a cancer-causing chemical. While this chemical isn’t in every soy sauce bottle, it plagues over 25% of all the soy sauce that comes out of China. If you want to keep your favorite condiment in your kitchen without fear, don’t purchase a bottle that comes from China.