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Friday, April 29, 2011

China in another food scandal

I love Chinese foods. In fact, in all the 12 countries that I have visited including three in Europe, there are many delicious Chinese restaurants. However, scandals about food safety issues in the world’s largest population have caused public concern that has brought illness to people who have consumed their products in the mainland and abroad.
In a new development, Chongqing city authorities confiscated 26 tons of melamine-tainted milk powder, said the Global Times in a report by the AFP.
Not knowing who to trust, consumers in the country's southwest city were upset, said Beijing office worker Zhang Lihua.
She told AFP, "If the police don't crack down on profit-driven businessmen who have lost their morality, they will become even bolder and produce even more poisonous food. It has become so bad that no one knows what foods are safe and which ones are poisonous."
In another case, 251 children fell ill on Friday morning after consuming school milk at Yuhe Town Central Primary School in Yulin, Shaanxi province. The milk was produced by the Mengniu Dairy Group, said Xinhua News.
The kids were admitted to hospital and were discharged the following day.
Test results showed the milk passed the country's standards for food safety. No pathogens were detected in the students' vomitus and stool samples. No causes were released why the children became sick.
This reminds us of the same milk scandal in 2008 that left six babies dead and 300,000 became ill after consuming the melamine-containing infant formula.
Other food safety failures include aluminum dumplings, cadmium rice, glow-in-the-dark pork, lean meat powder pork, leather milk, pesticide-drenched yard-long beans, toxic bean-sprouts, toxic take-away boxes and sewer oil.
Early this year, China has stepped up its efforts to improve its food safety standards and arrested a score of people who violated the law, the state-owned Global Times said.
But an article in the same daily said bribery is practiced in the industry that is why banned foods enter the food chain.
"Officials have always been announcing plans to clamp down on illegal food production activities. But why have they failed to control it and why are the scandals appearing so frequently?" told Li Duo, a food safety and nutrition specialist at Zhejiang University, to Hong Kong’s South China Morning Post.
"The main reason is that the punishment is too light for businessmen who break the law and officials guilty of dereliction of duty."
Relating China's food scandals to America's overhauling the meatpacking industry in the last century that was exposed in Upton Sinclair's 1906 novel "The Jungle," Yang Guoying, a former general manager of pork processing companies, told the Global Times, "I don’t think this has anything to do with moral bankruptcy. The US went through this 100 years ago. Taiwan went through it a few decades ago. This is about the market we’re living in. It’s about people trying to make money and trying to survive."
Details of this report here.

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