Food safety in China
of Article: http://www.freshplaza.com/news_detail.asp?id=40285
Chinese proverb says “Food doesn’t harm you but careless words may.” However,
you can no longer say “food doesn’t harm you”. Nowadays, people choose food
with exceptional caution. They buy vegetables with bugs and soak them for
half an hour to avoid pesticides. They won’t choose white noodles because
artificial pigment has been added, and the same with chilli sauces.
However, no matter how smart you are, there is no way you can stay away
from unsafe foods.
Over the past year there have been a number of food safety stories from
China. The stories below demonstrate the risk to consumers, but also to
investors in an industry that is now under enormous pressure to clean up
its act. With a new food law on the drawing board for 2009, the question
remains whether the ‘Made in China’ brand can claw its way back into export
(and even domestic) markets.
Sodium cyclamate in jujubes: The Urumqi Health Authority reported
the discovery of illegally produced “red jujube” in the Toutunhe District
on 18 August. Authorities found 10 tons of raw materials and finished
products at the manufactory site. They also uncovered 14 bags of sodium
cyclamate, 11 bags of saccharin-sodium, as well as a bag of alum. Workers
turned “green jujubes” (raw jujubes) to “red jujubes” (ripe jujubes) by
adding soy sauce, and then used saccharin-sodium and sodium cyclamate to
make them sweet and tasty. Some of the products made it to market before
the authorities could halt sales.
“Do not eat oranges”: So said a text message that spread rapidly by
mobile phone in Guangyuan, Sichuan, around 20 October. The message said
that “there are maggots in Guangyuan oranges” and that people shouldn’t eat
them. The government tried to hose down what was eventually reported as a
rumour, but the case triggered panic among some consumers.
People in China are worried about food safety; and with good reason. In
response, China's top legislature approved the Food Safety Law on 28
February 2009, providing a legal basis for the government to strengthen
food safety control "from the production line to the dining
table." The law, which goes into effect later this year on 1 June will
enhance monitoring and supervision, toughen safety standards, recall
substandard products and severely punish offenders.
A blue paper issued by the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences on 2 March
states China should strengthen risk management to ensure food safety. The
system, it says, should focus on evaluating the biological, chemical and
physical dangers existent in food and food additives.
An important component of the Food Safety Law is that it prohibits the Food
Safety Supervision and Management Department from giving companies or
products an exemption for food tests. This would seem vital now to
resuscitate trust in ‘Made in China’ food products.
Food safety is synonymous with a healthy life, so it is essential now that
China (including food growers, manufacturers, retailers and various
monitoring department) build trust.