Who needs Gallagher when we have the Chinese to explode watermelons.  Leave it to the little people to figure a way to totally pollute their food supply. Farmers in Eastern China applied a chemical growth accelerator called forchlorfenuron on watermelons causing them to explode in the fields. They were trying to get them to grow faster, not knowing the application during a wet period and too late in the season would result in an absurdly comical scenario.  More importantly, what would eating the watermelon do to people, or animals?

The U.S. EPA says forchlorfenuron is a plant growth regulator used mainly on raisins, grapes, and kiwifruit.  They list it as non-carcinogenic and of low toxicity, based on studies using animal subjects. The Australian government conducted an assessment noting in a study dogs exposed to the chemical via their diet, had raised their cholesterol levels raised. Neither country classifies it as a hazardous substance.

The story here really is about food safety practices in China, not just one chemical. In April of this year, nitrate poisoned milk caused the deaths of three children.  In February, researchers found cadmium in rice sampled from six different regions. This heavy metal can cause softening of bones, and high blood pressure. Several years ago, it was melamine contamination in milk, that killed six children, and made about 300,000 people sick. Last year, Chinese authorities were still trying to track down all the melamine contaminated milk.

Additionally, some farmers in China overuse pesticides and fertilizers. So if you are traveling to there, be careful what you eat. Also some foods imported to Western countries as specialty items from China might not be as safe as previously thought.