Thursday February 21, 2019

FOOD SECURITY IN CHINA

May 9,2013

China’s latest food issue, additives in meat, has raised global concern. The Chinese government has responded by enforcing harsher punishments for food related crimes and setting better standards to detect food additives.

The list of food related issues in China includes everything from gutter oil used as cooking oil to melamine found in baby formula. The latest case, creating fake mutton and beef by adding chemicals to fox, mink, and rat meat, is thus not particularly shocking news. The Chinese government, however, is taking serious action to prevent such crimes from reoccurring. Over 900 suspects involved in the fake meat case have been arrested in the last three months and the government has seized more than 20,000 tonnes of fake meat.

Over the past three years, the number of food-related cases tried in court has grown exponentially. In 2012, 861 poisonous food cases went to trial, ten times more than the 80 cases in 2010.

The unclear laws previously set by China’s Supreme Court and Ministry of Health are contributing factors to China’s food safety issues. Food safety violations include “producing and selling food that cannot meet the safety standard and producing and selling poisonous and harmful food.” These violations must also be severe “enough to cause serious food poisoning and other food-borne diseases.”

These laws are problematic because they are left open to interpretation. New judicial rulings have fixed this problem by listing five major dangerous additives that would definitely meet the requirements of these laws: pathogenic microforms, pesticide residues, heavy metals, and other related substances. With this clarification, the sale of tainted baby formulas and diseased meat is now clearly against food safety laws.

The food safety standards required by the Ministry of Health are also unclear. Without placing proper inspection standards on food items, there is no way to restrict the amount of chemicals and other additives used. Safety standards help determine whether the amount of certain items used in products is safe to consume. Food manufactures use additives to enhance the physical appearance of their food, but often use toxic levels. China’s Ministry of Health has informed the public that 60% of food additives lack adequate inspection standards.

Another contributing factor to the continued food related issues in China is the persistence of improperly conducted food safety inspections. New regulations have recently been put in place to punish food safety supervisors who fail at their jobs.

China’s food security is also a concern for the global public health and economy. China is not only the supplier of U.S. produce but also the producer of the inputs necessary to make many of our processed food. U.S. corporations operating in China are also linked to this food problem. Although the major U.S. food corporation, Yum, says they are not affected or involved in the fake mutton scandal, Chinese consumers are still concerned about where meat comes from, adversely affecting Yum’s Little Sheep hot pot restaurants in China.

For further information on Food Security in China, please see the following news sources and commentary:

BBC News-“China arrests hundreds over fake or tainted meat

Reuters-“Yum says not affected by China mutton scandal

The Epoch Times-“Wealthy Chinese are pursuing their own food safety

The Epoch Times-“Additives endanger China’s food safety

Wall Street Journal-“Rats! China chews on new food safety scandal

Xinhua-“China vows harsher punishment of food-related crimes

Subcommittee Hearing-“The Threat of China’s Unsafe Consumables

 

For Chinese language commentary on Food Security in China, please see the following news sources:

Renmin Wang (人民网) -“ 假羊肉卷泛滥”反衬监管不达标

Xinhua (新华网)-上海调查假羊肉流向和数量:老鼠肉加明胶制作

The Epoch Times (大纪元)-中国2200种食品添加剂 六成无法检测

China Daily (中国日报)-假羊肉风波持续发酵 内蒙古羊肉价格大幅下滑

Compiled and edited by Xi Gao