DECEMBER 19TH 2014
STRONGER FOOD SAFETY A MUST IN CHINA
As the year 2014 comes to an end, several scandals rocked China in the food safety sector this year. These scandals, impacting the view and confidence of how consumers see their food quality being inspected and controlled has brought many Chinese citizens to be first hand witnesses on the lack of control in this sector. Back in 2008 the scandal of baby milk being produced with poison scared consumers leading to in surge of baby milk being smuggled from Hong Kong or Australia. The standard and process which food in China is examined has been brought to discussion as food producers, famous fast food chains, and national suppliers have all been caught in the web.
While China battles to place itself in the top tier of world powers, scandals like these affect its image abroad especially those dealing with the production and quality control of food. The biggest scandal came from tainted and expired meat from American fast food chain McDonalds operating in China this past July «the problem goes back to supplier OSI Group’s Shanghai Husi Food, which is accused by Chinese authorities of putting false sell-by dates on expired meat.» The result of this scandal was lower profit earnings in August, McDonald’s reported that its global sales for the month of July dropped 2.5%, with 7.3% drop in the APMEA segment, driven by China’s food scandal.
Recently in Beijing banned additives were found in bean sprouts, before that in 2011 there was a case of sprouts being tainted with hormones.
When dealing with imported foods, there was the case of the smuggling of Brazil beef coming from an area affected by the mad cow disease. In 2012 China had banned meat from Brazil due to the same reasons, but earlier this July it lifted than ban. Before the ban was lifted there were cases of the police cracking down on butcher shops and meat processing centers that dealt with meat smuggled in through Hong Kong. The beef was attractive because of the low prices and profit margins that butchers could «the smuggled beef attracted many Chinese consumers because of its low price. Local raw beef costs 60 yuan (9.8 U.S. dollars) to 80 yuan per kilogram, while Brazilian beef only costs half of the price of local beef.»
As a country with one of the largest populations on earth Chinese authorities will have to reestablish the confidence of consumers in staple products. Inspections in China in all sectors need to be amped to make sure the quality and safety of these are being respected. Will we see in 2015 more scandals or will authorities step up their fight for food safety and tougher inspections?
Jairo Andrés Muñoz, MIR-Peking UniversityPublishing Coordinator email@example.com