Food safety top concern in China
Updated: 2015-06-19 11:01
BEIJING - In China, where food safety scandals are commonplace, the public have to be extra careful before every bite.
Reports of meat injected with steroids and unhealthy animals butchered for consumption give new weight to the phrases "beef up" and "sick as a pig".
There have been reports of problems from every link in the production chain. Even agricultural produce, it seems, is not safe. A huge batch of bean sprouts was seized after they were found to contain worrying amounts of controlled chemicals.
Last July, Shanghai Husi Food Co Ltd, a supplier to leading fast food brands including McDonald's, KFC and Pizza Hut, were discovered using expired meat in their products. Six of the company's senior executives were arrested.
The revised Food Safety Law comes into effect on Oct 1, and brings harsher punishment for the adulteration of food intended for our plates.
Food for thought
An annual China Youth Daily survey in March found that food safety was the public's top concern. In response to a list of "quality of life" issues including housing and the environment, 77.3 percent of respondents said food safety mattered most to them. The new law should rebuild confidence in the domestic food industry.
Those found to have added substances unfit for human consumption to food could be jailed for up to 15 days, and producers may face fines of up to 30 times the value of their products.
The amendment includes provisions for landlords and suppliers found to be complicit, at any stage of the production chain, in the adulteration of food.
Should officials with food and drug regulators, or health and agriculture departments, be found negligent or involved in concealment, they will face administrative penalties, such as demotion or dismissal.
Infant milk formula will be heavily regulated after six babies died and thousands fell ill due to melamine-contaminated formula in 2008.
Producers will now have to run tests on their products, conduct regular inspections and submit reports to regulatory bodies.
"Zero tolerance" of food safety crime
Earlier this month, Premier Li Keqiang lauded the revamped Food Safety Law and its "zero tolerance" stance.