Posts tagged ‘food safety’


China seizes 30,000 in 2014 for food, drug crimes – Xinhua |

Chinese police apprehended nearly 30,000 in connection with food and drug safety offences in 2014, closing 35,000 illegal factories and workshops, the Ministry of Public Security revealed Friday.

Food safety is still a serious problem in China, despite of some improvement, the ministry’s Hua Jingfeng told a press conference.

Hua noted that cases related to baby formula and “gutter oil” have decreased, but those concerning other substandard foods have increased.

Violations by big companies have dropped substantially while cases involving small companies and workshops increased, he said.

Some new crimes have emerged, including injecting Epinephrine Hydrochloride into pork which makes the pork look fresh and adds weight.

Last month, police arrested more than 110 suspects for selling pork from diseased pigs, confiscating over 1,000 tons of contaminated pork and 48 tons of cooking oil processed from the pork and other unclean meat.

via China seizes 30,000 in 2014 for food, drug crimes – Xinhua |


Chinese tests find quarter of drinking water ‘substandard’: Shanghai Daily | Reuters

Almost a quarter of purified drinking water tested by China’s top safety watchdog was substandard, with many products found to contain excessive levels of bacteria, the official Shanghai Daily newspaper said on Monday.

The findings underline the challenge to controlling supply chains in China, after a slew of food safety scares over the past year from donkey meat products contaminated with fox to heavy metals found in infant food.

The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) found excessive bacteria in purified water products from China’s biggest drinks maker, Wahaha Group, as well as C’estbon Beverage Co Ltd and Danone SA’s Robust brand, the newspaper said.

In a statement posted on the official Xinhua news agency, Wahaha said it had recalled the affected products and cut its supply relationship with the water station where it said the contamination had occurred.

via Chinese tests find quarter of drinking water ‘substandard’: Shanghai Daily | Reuters.


E-Commerce Gives a Lift to China’s Rural Farmers – Businessweek

A recent series of food safety scandals has created a hunger in China’s big cities for natural or traditionally grown food, absent buckets of fertilizer and pesticide. Two beneficiaries of this new market are Li Chengcai, 83, and his wife, 76-year-old Cheng Youfang, who grow white radishes in fields shadowed by the Yellow Mountain range. They get orders online from distant urban customers willing to pay more for flavorful, safe food.

E-Commerce Gives a Lift to China's Rural Farmers

The couple lives in Bishan, a village of 2,800 residents, in an old stone home on a narrow street lined with crumbling mansions. Rich merchants built the homes more than a century ago when the village, in southern Anhui province, was in its heyday. Many villagers, including their four daughters, have left for the cities. In 2011, China’s population was more than half urban for the first time. But Li and Cheng, who are illiterate and speak only their local dialect, say they have no plans to leave. Fortunately, a new opportunity has come to them—as it may to many more farmers in the next few years.

About a year ago, Zhang Yu, a 26-year-old “young village official”—that’s her actual title—knocked on Li’s door. In the summer of 2012, as national newspapers carried heated debates about genetically modified organisms and food safety, Zhang and a few other young colleagues had an idea. In their capacity as village officials they launched an account on Sina Weibo, a microblogging site, to post items about the fresh, traditionally grown produce of the Yellow Mountain region. Soon afterward they began an online store through Alibaba Group’s platform to connect local farmers with urban buyers. The first order, for 5 pounds of sweet corn, came from a resident of the wealthy port city of Dalian.

via E-Commerce Gives a Lift to China’s Rural Farmers – Businessweek.

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Growing Concerns About Pollution And Public Health In China

BusinessWeek: “Recently, I was invited to the Beijing apartment of a Chinese friend in his mid-20s. An attentive host, he brought out a tray of washed grapes, but looked dubious when I was about to simply eat one. Because the grapes were almost surely sprayed with too many pesticides—and perhaps other dangerous chemicals—he explained that it was foolish to eat them directly and urged me to peel each grape first.

Growing Concerns About Pollution And Public Health In China

His reflexive wariness about food grown or packaged in China is hardly unique among college-educated Beijing residents. Some 38 percent of Chinese respondents told a recent Pew Research Center poll (PDF) that food safety is a “very big problem” in China. That’s up significantly from 2008, when only 12 percent of respondents agreed.

The Pew research team, which conducted 3,226 face-to-face interviews this spring, uncovered rising levels of concern about sundry public health issues in China. Fully 47 percent of respondents rated air pollution a “very big problem,” and 40 percent said the same of water pollution. That’s up from 31 percent and 28 percent, respectively, in 2008. Poll respondents who were younger (under age 30), wealthy, and living in cities were the most likely to express worry about food safety and product safety.”

via Growing Concerns About Pollution And Public Health In China – Businessweek.

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* Guangzhou rice scare shows open government remains elusive

SCMP: “Cover-up of cadmium scandal reveals authorities’ reluctance to comply with 2007 rule on non-classified information


Guangzhou rice scare shows open government remains elusive

Many Guangzhou residents have been worried and angry for more than a week after being told that nearly half the rice they buy from local markets may contain excessive levels of cadmium, a carcinogenic heavy metal.

The city’s Food and Drug Administration said on May 16 that it had checked 18 batches of rice between January and March and had found cadmium levels in eight of them exceeded the national food safety standard.

But it declined to disclose any information about the tainted rice, such as where it was produced and by which brands. The food-safety watchdog said it was “inconvenient” to share the information with the public but did not explain why.

The cover-up sparked a national outcry. Even some state-owned media criticised the regulator, saying the refusal to disclose the information was a crime.

After coming under a great deal of pressure, the watchdog disclosed the names of the rice producers last Saturday, but still refused to detail the amount of tainted rice sold.

The Guangzhou case is merely the tip of the proverbial iceberg in showing how reluctant mainland officials are to allow open access to government data.

The Regulations on Open Government Information, introduced by Beijing in 2007, say all levels of local government should make their non-classified information public.

The regulations set clear standards for the format authorities should follow when publishing and organising the data on their websites, because of concerns that members of the public would otherwise be unable to find the information they were looking for.

But six years later, mainland officials remain reluctant to publicise such information.”

via Guangzhou rice scare shows open government remains elusive | South China Morning Post.


* Beijing to enact strict new food safety laws

Yet more reforms by the new government, this time in food safety.

Xinhua/Reuters: “Beijing will introduce tough new laws to punish firms that flout food safety laws, the official Xinhua news agency reported, a significant move in China’s struggle to get its abysmal food safety record under control.

The announcement follows a similar declaration by the city of Shanghai on Wednesday saying it would blacklist firms that flout food safety laws.

Under the new Beijing regulations, to take effect in April, firms caught producing or selling unsafe foods will be banned from operating in Beijing for life, according to a municipal food safety regulation passed on Thursday, the report said.

Employees found responsible for food safety problems and the executives of companies that commit food safety problems will not be allowed to work in the industry for five years after their firms’ licenses are revoked, the report said.

China’s food safety problems have proven difficult to eradicate even after repeated government campaigns to enforce standing laws and change attitudes at Chinese companies.

Frequent media reports refer to cooking oil being recycled from drains, carcinogens in milk, and fake eggs. In 2008, milk laced with the industrial chemical melamine killed at least six children and sickened nearly 300,000.

On Monday, Shanghai’s food safety authority said the level of antibiotics and steroids in Yum Brands Inc‘s KFC chicken was within official limits, but found a suspicious level of an antiviral drug in one of the eight samples tested.

Yum! Brands logo

Yum! Brands logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Yum faced criticism last week from China’s state-owned broadcaster, which said Yum’s KFC chickens in China contained an excessive level of antibiotics.”

via Beijing to enact strict new food safety laws: Xinhua | Reuters.

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* Child journalists grill ministers at China congress

“From the mouth of babes …” If only the official response had been more honest and not from the standard script.

SCMP: “The innocent but pointed questions from a pair of young reporters to officials at China’s Communist Party talks have provided a refreshing break from the usual fare of bland reports and rote answers.


The plucky 11-year-old reporters from Chinese Teenagers News have become a minor media sensation in their own right by highlighting hot-button issues that typically make authorities squirm, including food safety and rising prices.

Zhang Jiahe, press badge around his neck and “junior journalist” embroidered on his clothing, told China’s housing minister that rising accommodation costs were affecting disposable income – including for new toys.

“Our family has not bought a house but a few friends nearby have faced this problem,” he said at the normally tightly-scripted gathering that heralds the unveiling of a new leadership on Thursday.

Skyrocketing property prices have squeezed China’s growing urban population in recent years even as government controls have slowed their rise.

Meanwhile food safety scandals have put off Zhang’s colleague Sun Luyuan and her friends from eating their favourite snacks.

“I love snacks, but I don’t dare to eat snacks now because we see so many reports these days of problems with food products,” she asked high-level officials, according to the state-run China News Service.

“Why are these kinds of food products available for purchase?”

Many Chinese have become concerned about food safety after a spate of scandals including a vast contamination of milk powder in 2008 that killed six babies and sickened 300,000 others.

“I thought of the question myself,” Sun told reporters this week of last Friday’s press conference. “I think this issue is very important to us so I really wanted to ask this question.”

Sun said the delegates had all been friendly so she was not afraid to put queries to them on behalf of Chinese Teenagers News, which is affiliated with the Communist Youth League.

The pair’s supervisor told reporters they were selected for the assignment because they were among the best journalists at the paper.

For over an hour during a press conference on Monday, both faced forward and sat up straight, seemingly unfazed by the unending flashes as photographers captured their efforts.

But while the child reporters’ inquiries have been acute, they have only received standard answers.

Sun was given a stock response on food standards from officials who pledged the government was addressing the situation and putting proper safety measures in place – a line repeated for years even as the scandals have persisted.

via Child journalists grill ministers at China congress | South China Morning Post.


* The consuming challenge of food safety

Once again we see China’s central government trying to do the right thing, but thwarted by both selfish interests of unethical and unscrupulous business people, often with local authorities turning a blind eye to malpractices as any remedial action may reduce local economic gains.

China Daily: “Report shows eating healthily is a major concern for Chinese people

Food safety is a top concern for Chinese shoppers, especially regarding such produce as vegetables, meat, seafood, grain, cooking oils and dairy goods, according to a report from Ipsos.

The consuming challenge of food safety

It shows Chinese people are very concerned about the quality of what they eat, especially those who are older (aged 31 to 50) and those who earn a higher monthly salary (12,000 yuan a year and above – more than $1,900).

Most people are highly aware of various channels through which they can obtain information on food safety, especially with incidents regarding clenbuterol in meat (showing awareness rates as high as 94 percent), melamine in baby milk formulas (92 percent), swill-cooked “gutter” oil (85 percent) and tainted steamed buns (80 percent).

Food experts

Public concern about food safety results in food experts and third-party institutes being listened to in greater numbers and in more detail.

As a result, the Ipsos report shows that shoppers’ trust in experts and authorities has reached 83 percent. A total of 89 percent of the respondents have shown an interest in participating in science activities organized by such experts.

However, people do not always form an accurate picture. When there is negative news about one brand, trust in all brands in that or similar sectors tends to be affected. As many as 70 percent of the respondents said they would doubt not only the brand in question but also similar brands when news of a safety issue emerges.

“Food safety incidents that have occurred in China attracted a lot of attention but the general public still has a very limited knowledge base on the issue. In the United States and European countries, there have been fully fledged food manufacturing practice and response measures toward safety issues,” said Jennifer Tsai, managing director of Innovation and Forecasting at Ipsos Marketing in Greater China.

“Therefore, the consumers in those countries are less likely to become over-panicked and form serious doubts about all brands.”

Tsai added that an independent third-party body should be set up to provide information about manufacturers’ processes in raw material selection, production and distribution. The government should also have a role to play in this. However, this might require several years and the public still needs to learn more about food safety.”

via The consuming challenge of food safety |Economy |


* China probes ‘gutter oil in medicine’ claims

BBC News: “Chinese officials have told pharmaceutical firms to check their suppliers after claims that some have used “gutter oil” to make antibiotics, state-run media report.

File photo: Police inspecting illegal cooking oil seized in 2010

Officials are looking into firms that reportedly use the cheaper gutter oil rather than the more expensive soy bean oil in the production process.

Gutter oil is reprocessed kitchen waste dredged from restaurant drains.

It has been part of a series of recent food safety scandals in China.

The government said it would release its findings soon, without giving further details.

It is not clear whether these antibiotics pose a risk to public health, but the incident highlights how some firms cut corners to pursue profits, says the BBC’s Martin Patience in Beijing.

Scandals over contaminated food – most recently gutter oil – have caused considerable public alarm in China in recent years.

In April, state-run media reported on how officials cracked down on underground workshops that used decomposing animal fat and organs to produce gutter oil.

Police said that most of the oil was sold to oil manufacturers for food production and making hotpot soup in restaurants.

In September last year, police arrested 32 people in an operation to prevent the sale of gutter oil as cooking oil.”

via BBC News – China probes ‘gutter oil in medicine’ claims.

There seem to be no limits to the unethical behaviour of some Chinese business people. Central government is trying to do its best, in pharmaceuticals,and  food production, but the miscreants carry on.


* Chinese vice premier urges harsh punishments for food safety violations

Xinhua: “Vice Premier Li Keqiang on Wednesday called for strict and harsh punishments against food safety violations and urged strengthened supervision to ensure food safety.

Li, also head of the food safety commission under the State Council, or China’s cabinet, told participants at a plenary meeting of the commission that authorities should take a pro-active approach to deter violations.

Prominent problems that threaten food safety have not been fundamentally rooted up, and China still faces a grave situation in ensuring its food safety, he said at the meeting.

China will continue its heavy-handed measures against criminal offenses in food scandals and seek to establish a long-term mechanism to check food safety in 2012, Li said at the meeting, during which an agenda for the priorities of China’s annual food safety work was reviewed.”

Li Keqiang is the expected Premier-to-be when the top two posts change hands late this year/early next year in the Chinese decennial handover. For more on this go to

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