Food safety in the People's Republic of China


Food safety in the People's Republic of China

Food safety is a growing concern in Chinese agriculture. China's principal crops are rice, corn, wheat, soybeans, and cotton in addition to apples and other fruits and vegetables. [USDA. [http://www.ers.usda.gov/briefing/china/keystatistics.htm "China - Key Statistics"] and [http://www.fao.org/es/ess/top/country.html;jsessionid=93CD1398BDF8721D9BD4C12D18EE569E?lang=en&country=351&year=2005 "China - Key Statistics"] . 2005.] China's principal livestock products include pork, beef, dairy, and eggs. [USDA. [http://www.ers.usda.gov/briefing/china/keystatistics.htm "China - Key Statistics"] ] The Chinese government oversees agricultural production as well as the manufacture of food packaging, containers, chemical additives, drug production, and business regulation. In recent years, the Chinese government attempted to consolidate food regulation with the creation of the State Food and Drug Administration of China in 2003, and officials have also been under increasing public and international pressure to solve food safety problems.

Overview

The growing unrest over food safety in China reached a climax in early 2007, shortly after circulation to the State Council of an Asian Development Bank policy note based on a technical assistance project in collaboration with the State Food and Drug Administration and the World Health Organization. The note and a subsequent report applauded increased efforts by the Chinese government but noted remaining gaps, calling in particular for urgent reforms to strengthen and streamline inter-agency coordination and enact an overarching "basic food law". The State Food and Drug Administration of China also published a survey in early 2007 where 65% of the respondents expressed concern about food safety. Shortly afterwards, Lu Jianzhong, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), and China's Vice Premier, Wu Yi, issued statements of apology and promised to create a food safety monitoring system. [China Digital Times " [http://chinadigitaltimes.net/2007/03/apologies_for_food_safety_in_china_1.php apologies for food safety in china] "]

China's food regulations are complex, its monitoring system can be unresponsive, and the government departments that oversee and enforce policies have overlapping and often ambiguous duties. There are around ten national government departments that share the responsibility to ensure food safety. There are also numerous provincial and local agencies that monitor local food production and sales. The food and drug laws themselves have been created "in an ad hoc way without the benefit of a basic food law," as Henk Bekedam of the World Health Organization told the Wall Street Journal (9 April 2007, B1). [Zamiska, Nicholas. "Who's Monitoring Chinese Food Exports?" "Wall Street Journal." April 9, 2007. Pg. B1.] The last major revision of the food and drug laws was made in 1995 [ China Laws and Regulations of Food, Drug, and Cosmetics. [http://www.chinafdc-law.com/laws/detail_156.html "Food Hygiene Law of the People's Republic of China."] ] when the Food Hygiene Law of the People's Republic of China established general food safety principles. Both the State Council and the departments under the State Council can issue regulations and directives concerning food. [China Laws and Regulations of Food, Drug, and Cosmetics. [http://www.chinafdc-law.com/laws/index_b_1.html "Regulations and Directives on Food"] ]

Changes in China's food production system are generating an awareness of food safety problems. China's agricultural system is composed mostly of small land-holding farmers [Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. [http://www.fao.org/DOCREP/003/Y1860E/y1860e08.htm#P1_1 "East Asia"] ] and subsistence agriculture. China, however, has less arable land than other nations and farmers intensively use fertilizer and pesticides to maintain high food production. [Gale, Fred. "China at a Glance: A Statistical Overview of China's Food and Agriculture." April 2002. [http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aib775/aib775e.pdf Agricultural Information Bulletin No. AIB775] ] Food is sold in both open air markets and urban supermarkets, and by the late 1990s, China's farms were adapting to more specialized crop production as the local markets become more connected to the national and international markets. However, local authorities largely control food regulation enforcement [Gale, Fred. "Regions in China: One Market or Many?." April 2002. [http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/aib775/aib775i.pdf Agricultural Information Bulletin No. AIB775] ] unless the central government steps in. As urban consumers' incomes increase, the demand for quality food goods, safer production, and processed foods also increases, and urban residents and supermarkets attract more national and media attention to food problems. [Gale, Fred. "Chinese Household Food Spending and Income." January, 2007. [http://www.ers.usda.gov/publications/err32/err32e.pdf Economic Research Report ERR-32] ]

On July 10, 2007, Zheng Xiaoyu, the former head of China's State Food And Drug Administration, was executed by shooting for taking bribes from various firms in exchange for state licenses related to product safety. [ China food safety head executed [http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/world/asia-pacific/6286698.stm] ]

Government departments

Approximately ten government departments and ministries under the State Council monitor food safety in China. [ Wei, Liu. "Safe Food For All Should Be the Recipe." March 15, 2007. [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-03/15/content_828060.htm] ] These include the Ministry of Health, the State Food and Drug Administration, the State Drug Administration, and the Ministry of Agriculture, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine, the Ministry of Commerce, the Ministry of Science and Technology, and the National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety.

No single agency is responsible for all food safety regulations and enforcement in China, and the departments' duties often overlap. [ Wei, Liu. "Safe Food For All Should Be the Recipe." March 15, 2007. [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-03/15/content_828060.htm] ] There are also local and regional food safety agencies, but there is no clear hierarchy of agencies at the local or national levels. In response to complexity of numerous agencies monitoring and regulating food safety, the National People's Congress established the State Food and Drug Administration in 2003. The State Food and Drug Administration was supposed to oversee the all aspects of food safety regulations and unify food safety controls. However, the State Food and Drug Administration has not become the main governing department as the government had intended, and the other national agencies have continued to regulate and monitor food safety. This unclear division of duties has created conflict and confusion when citizens have sought to complain or a when major crisis needed to be resolved.

The National People's Congress (NPC) [ "Highlights of NPC Standing Committee's Work Report" National People's Congress of the People's Republic of China. March 11, 2007. [http://www.npc.gov.cn/zgrdw/english/news/newsDetail.jsp?id=220105&articleId=361192] ] is primarily responsible for implementing food safety laws. The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress and the State Council also regulate food safety issues. [ China Laws and Regulations of Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. [http://www.chinafdc-law.com/glossary.html] ] The Food Hygiene Law of 1995, passed by the NPC, amended the 1982 Food Hygiene Law and regulates most aspects of food safety. [ Yongmin, Bian. "The Challenges for Food Safety in China: Current legislation is unable to protect consumers from the consequences of unscrupulous food production." French Centre for Research on Contemporary China. May-June, 2004. [http://www.cefc.com.hk/uk/pc/articles/art_ligne.php?num_art_ligne=5301] ]

Ministry of Health

Established in 1949, the Ministry of Health [ Chinese webpage [http://www.moh.gov.cn/2.htm] ] [ English webpage [http://english.gov.cn/2005-10/09/content_75326.htm] ] encompasses general health policies, health law enforcement, children's and seniors' health policies, and diseases and emergencies. It provides experts to investigate poisoning cases, enforces food safety and hygiene inspections, and can order local health departments to conduct investigations into food quality violations. The Ministry of Health also oversees the Institute of Food Safety Control and Inspection, an agency that has studied and identified unsafe foods and has helped local health authorities form policies and training programs to combat unsafe food production and handling practices. The Chartered Institute of Environmental Health has called the Ministry of Health "the most important governing body of food safety." [ "Fast Track to China." Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. February 2, 2007. [http://www.cieh.org/ehp/profile/articles/fast_track_to_china.htm] ]

The general duties of the Ministry of Health are: [ Ministry of Health. English Website. [http://english.gov.cn/2005-10/09/content_75326.htm] ]
#To draft health laws, regulations and policies; to propose health development programs and strategic goals; to formulate technical protocols, health standards and to supervise their enforcement.
#To propose regional health programs, to conduct overall planning and to coordinate the nationwide allocation of health resources.
#To formulate working programs and policies on rural health, as well as maternal and child health care; to guide the implementation of primary health programs and technical protocols on maternal and child health care.
#To implement the policy of "Prevention First" and to conduct health education to the general public. To develop programs on the prevention and treatment of diseases that endanger the health of the population; to organize the comprehensive prevention and treatment of major diseases; to publicize the quarantine list of communicable diseases and the surveillance list of infectious diseases.
#To guide the reform of medical institutions; to formulate criteria for medical practitioners, medical quality and service delivery, and to supervise their enforcement.
#To regulate by law blood collection at blood or plasma centers and the quality of blood for clinical transfusion.
#To draft key national development programs on medical science, technology and education; to organize key national medical and health researches; to guide the dissemination and application of medical achievements. To administer the affiliated institutions.
#To supervise communicable disease prevention and treatment, food health, occupational, environmental, radiological, and school health. To formulate food and cosmetics quality control protocols and be responsible for their accreditation.
#To formulate national development programs on health professionals and professional ethics protocols for health personnel; to draft and implement staffing standards for health institutions and accreditation criteria for health personnel.
#To organize and guide multi-lateral and bilateral governmental and non-governmental health and medical cooperation and exchanges and medical aid to other countries, to participate in major health events initiated by international organizations. To coordinate medical and health exchanges and collaborations between China and the World Health Organization and other international organizations.
#To implement the policy of developing both western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine.
#To do the routine work of the National Patriotic Health Campaign Committee.
#To coordinate and dispatch technical health capacity nationwide, to assist local governments and relevant agencies in emergency response to major epidemics and diseases and in epidemic and disease prevention and control.
#To undertake other work as designated by the State Council.

tate Food and Drug Administration

The State Food and Drug Administration of China (SFDA) was founded in 2003 as part of China's efforts to improve food safety. ["Fast Track to China." Chartered Institute of Environmental Health. February 2, 2007] The SFDA is responsible for overseeing and coordinating the other health, food, and drug agencies. It is "directly under the State Council, which is in charge of comprehensive supervision on the safety management of food, health food and cosmetics and is the competent authority of drug regulation." [ "About SFDA." State Food and Drug Administration. [http://www.sda.gov.cn/cmsweb/webportal/W43879538/index.html?UID=DWV1_WOUID_URL_43879538] ] The SFDA encompasses ten departments that regulate and oversee different aspects of food and drug law. These include the General Office Department of Planning and Finance, the Department of Policy and Regulations, the Department of Food Safety Coordination, the Department of Food Safety Supervision, the Department of Drug Registration, the Department of Medical Devices, the Department of Drug Safety and Inspection, the Department of Drug Market Compliance, the Department of Personnel and Education, and the Department of International Cooperation.

The general duties of the SFDA are: [ State Food and Drug Administration. [http://english.gov.cn/2005-10/09/content_75326.htm] ]
#To draft health laws, regulations and policies; to propose health development programs and strategic goals; to formulate technical protocols, health standards and to supervise their enforcement.
#To propose regional health programs, to conduct overall planning and to coordinate the nationwide allocation of health resources.
#To formulate working programs and policies on rural health, as well as maternal and child health care; to guide the implementation of primary health programs and technical protocols on maternal and child health care.
#To implement the policy of "Prevention First" and to conduct health education to the general public. To develop programs on the prevention and treatment of diseases that endanger the health of the population; to organize the comprehensive prevention and treatment of major diseases; to publicize the quarantine list of communicable diseases and the surveillance list of infectious diseases.
#To guide the reform of medical institutions; to formulate criteria for medical practitioners, medical quality and service delivery, and to supervise their enforcement.
#To regulate by law blood collection at blood or plasma centers and the quality of blood for clinical transfusion.
#To draft key national development programs on medical science, technology and education; to organize key national medical and health researches; to guide the dissemination and application of medical achievements. To administer the affiliated institutions.
#To supervise communicable disease prevention and treatment, food health, occupational, environmental, radiological, and school health. To formulate food and cosmetics quality control protocols and be responsible for their accreditation.
#To formulate national development programs on health professionals and professional ethics protocols for health personnel; to draft and implement staffing standards for health institutions and accreditation criteria for health personnel.
#To organize and guide multi-lateral and bilateral governmental and non-governmental health and medical cooperation and exchanges and medical aid to other countries, to participate in major health events initiated by international organizations. To coordinate medical and health exchanges and collaborations between China and the World Health Organization and other international organizations.
#To implement the policy of developing both western medicine and traditional Chinese medicine.
#To do the routine work of the National Patriotic Health Campaign Committee.
#To coordinate and dispatch technical health capacity nationwide, to assist local governments and relevant agencies in emergency response to major epidemics and diseases and in epidemic and disease prevention and control.
#To undertake other work as designated by the State Council.

tate Drug Administration

The State Drug Administration (SDA) was established in 1998. The SDA was intended to consolidate the agencies that had previously managed drug policy, the State Pharmaceutical Administration of China (SPAC) and the the Bureau of Drug Policy Administration (BDPA). The SDA operates alongside the State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SATCM), an agency that oversees traditional medicines. [ Gross, Ames. "Regulatory Trends in China's Pharmaceutical Market." Pacific Bridge Medical. 1998. [http://www.pacificbridgemedical.com/publications/html/ChinaDec1998.htm Pacific Bridge Medical] ] In 2003, the SDA was merged with the State Food and Drug Administration. [ "Relevant Terminology." China Laws and Regulations of Food, Drugs, and Cosmetics. [http://www.chinafdc-law.com/glossary.html#58 China FDC] ]

Ministry of Agriculture

The Ministry of Agriculture handles farm-level food safety regulations and policies. [ Ministry of Agriculture. [http://www.agri.gov.cn/ Chinese web page] ] One of its most important duties is to regulate and enforce the use of chemicals, pollutants, and pesticides on farms. [ Ministry of Agriculture. Chinese language page. [http://www.agri.gov.cn/ Ministry of Agriculture] ] [ Calvin, Linda, Fred Gale, Dinghuan Hu, and Bryan Lohmar. "Food Safety Improvements Underway in China." Amber Waves. USDA. 2006. [http://www.ers.usda.gov/AmberWaves/November06/Features/FoodSafety.htm Amber Waves, USDA] ] The Institute for the Control of Agrochemicals (CAMA) is responsible for pesticide testing, research, and use regulations, and operates under the Ministry of Agriculture. [ China Pesticide Information Network. Institute for the Control of Agrochemicals. [http://www.chinapesticide.gov.cn/en/about.htm CAMA] ] The Ministry of Agriculture is also responsible for animal health, and has handled the bird flu (avian influenza) outbreaks and [ "WHO Slams Chinese Ministry of Health for Not Sharing Bird Flu Info, Viruses." The Canadian Press. November 1, 2006. [http://www.cbc.ca/health/story/2006/11/01/flu-china.html Canadian Press] ] the mad cow disease prevention measures. [ "China Free of Mad Cow Disease, Ministry of Agriculture." People's Daily. June 18, 2002. [http://english.people.com.cn/200206/17/eng20020617_98020.shtml People's Daily] ] The Ministry of Agriculture works with local governments, operates disease research laboratories, and administers vaccinations and emergency response measures. [ Youling, Jia. Speech. November 10, 2006. [http://www.china.org.cn/e-news/news061110.htm Speech] ]
.

Ministry of Commerce

The Ministry of Commerce handles the regulations governing food trade, foreign investments, food distribution, and domestic and international market activities. [ [http://english.mofcom.gov.cn/ Ministry of Commerce of the People's Republic of China.] ]

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (GAQSIQ) oversees food imports and exports and quarantines at the national and local levels. [ Simcom: International Regulatory Compliance. [http://www.esimcom.com/aak2_0_1_2/simcom_about/ab3_china_strategic_alliances_AQSIQ.asp Simcom] ] It functions as a law enforcement agency. There are 19 departments under the GAQSIQ, and the ones that handle food safety issue are the Department of Supervision on Animal and Plant Quarantine, the Bureau of Import and Export Food Safety, and the Department of Supervision of Food Production. [ "Standards Organizations and Related Bodies." StandardsPortal.org. 2006. [http://www.standardsportal.org/prc_en/ov_standards_orgs.aspx Standards Portal] ] The GAQSIQ was made a Ministry in 2001. [ "Chinese Premier on Quality, Supervision, Quarantine." People's Daily. July 16, 2001. [http://english.people.com.cn/200107/16/eng20010716_75046.html People's Daily] ]

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce

The State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC) regulates market activity and is directly under the State Council. [ [http://gsyj.saic.gov.cn/wcm/WCMData/pub/saic/english/default.htm State Administration of Industry and Commerce] ] Under the SAIC, the Consumer Protection Bureau enforces standards for market products and investigates fake products, the Enterprise Registration Bureau issues business licenses, the Department of Personnel and Education oversees local SAIC departments, and the Department of Advertising Regulation works against fake or misleading advertising. [ State Administration of Industry and Commerce: Departments. 2006. [http://gsyj.saic.gov.cn/wcm/WCMData/pub/saic/english/About%20Us/t20060225_14599.htm SAIC] ]

The Mission the of SAIC is as follows: [ "State Administration of Industry and Commerce: Mission." 2006. [http://gsyj.saic.gov.cn/wcm/WCMData/pub/saic/english/About%20Us/t20060225_14598.htm SAIC] ]

#Draft and promulgate guidelines, policies, laws, rules and regulations concerning administration for industry and commerce.
#Handle and administer the registration of all kinds of enterprises (including foreign-invested enterprises), organizations or individuals that are engaged in business activities as well as resident representative offices of foreign companies; examine and ratify the registration of business names; review, approve and issue business licenses and carry out regulation thereof.
#Supervise market competition, investigate into illegal trade practices including monopoly, unfair competition, smuggling, selling of smuggled goods, pyramid selling and disguised pyramid selling and mete out corresponding penalties according to law.
#Regulate market transactions, supervise the quality of marketed goods; investigate and penalize illegal acts such as distribution of fake and/or substandard goods, so as to protect the legitimate rights and interests of both businesses and consumers.
#Carry out standard supervision and administration in accordance with law to ensure healthy order of business operation in various markets.
#Regulate the operation of brokers and brokerage agencies.
#Regulate contract performance, auctions and registration of chattel mortgage; investigate and penalize illegal practices such as contract frauds.
#Regulate advertising activities, investigate and penalize illegal practices.
#Take charge of trademark registration and administration, protect exclusive right of trademark, investigate and penalize trademark infringements and reinforce recognition and protection of well-known trademarks.
#Regulate the self-employed, private partnerships and private enterprises.
#Lead and guide local administrative authorities for industry and commerce nationwide.
#Carry out international cooperation and exchanges in areas related to the functions of SAIC.

Ministry of Science and Technology

The Ministry of Science and Technology (MST) investigates technological innovation to improve food production, manufacturing, and processing. The MST regulates the quality of market products, oversees the inspection of market products, and punishes sellers who violate product quality standards. The MST also regulates product packaging and can confiscate or destroy illegal products or product ingredients. [ Ministry of Science and Technology: Product Quality Law. 2000. [http://www.most.gov.cn/eng/policies/regulations/200501/t20050105_18422.htm MST] ]

National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety

The National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety (NINFS) is a research agency for nutrition and food hygiene. [ "China." UNC School of Public Health. 2007. [http://www.sph.unc.edu/ogh/researchmap/world/china.html UNC] ] It is affiliated with the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Chinese Academy of Preventative Medicine. [ "National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety." Carolina Population Center. 2004. [http://www.cpc.unc.edu/projects/china/people/infs.html CPC] ] The NINFS's mission is to nutrition and food hygiene, prevent food-borne diseases, and improve nutrition and fitness.

Food safety regulations

On October 2007, China approved new legislation aimed at improving and monitoring national standards in food production. New laws will standardize food production and clamp down on illegal activity in the industry. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine drafted the new regulations covering the production, processing and sale of food. They will create national standards and replace the existing patchwork of rules which are overseen by several government agencies. [ [http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5jCoDa8YozUgJb-NA-O6HK5yz2-Lw WHO chief praises China's efforts on food safety] AFP]

Food safety incidents

Many have been widely publicized as the causes of the 2007 outcries. These incidents began as early as 2004 and reached a climax in 2007. These incidents are meant to be illustrative of the overlapping duties of food safety agencies in China.

Incidents in 2004

Counterfeit baby formula

In April 2004, at least 13 babies in Fuyang, Anhui and 50-60 more in the rural areas of the Anhui province died of malnourishment from ingesting fake milk powder. 100-200 other babies in Anhui Province suffered malnutrition but survived. Local officials in Fuyang arrested 47 people who were responsible for making and selling the fake formula and investigators discovered 45 types of substandard formula for sale in Fuyang markets. Over 141 factories were responsible for the production of the formula and Chinese officials seized 2,540 bags of fake formula by mid-April. The State Food and Drug Administration ordered an investigation in May, 2004.

The babies suffered from "big head disease" according to Chinese doctors. Within three days of ingesting the formula, the babies' heads swelled while their bodies became thinner from malnourishment. The fake formulas were tested to have only 1-6% protein when the national requirement was 10% protein. The government promised to compensate families and help cover medical bills. Most of the victims were rural families. [ "47 Detained for Selling Baby-Killer Milk." China Daily. May 5, 2004. [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2004-05/10/content_329449.htm China Daily News] ] [ "China Fake Milk Scandal Deepens." BBC News. April 22, 2004. [http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/3648583.stm BBC News] ] [ "Milk Powder Kills Babies, Premier Orders Investigation." People's Daily. June 25, 2004. [http://english.people.com.cn/200404/20/eng20040420_140958.shtml People's Daily News] ]

Contaminated Longkou noodles

In 2004, testing by Chinese authorities determined that some brands of cellophane noodles produced in Yantai, Shandong were contaminated with lead. It emerged that several unscrupulous companies had been making their noodles from cornstarch instead of mung beans in order to save costs, and, to make the cornstarch transparent, were adding lead-based whiteners to their noodles. [http://www.china.org.cn/english/BAT/94745.htm] In December 2006, Beijing authorities again inspected cellophane noodles produced by the [http://www.21food.com/showroom/3888/aboutus/Yantai-Deshengda-Longkou-Vermicelli-Co.,Ltd..html Yantai Deshengda Longkou Vermicelli Co. Ltd.] [http://www.zhaoyuan.com.cn/en/enterprise_allshow.asp?id=6] in Siduitou village, Zhangxing town, Zhaoyuan city, Yantai, this time determining that sodium formaldehyde sulfoxylate, a toxic and possibly carcinogenic industrial bleach which is an illegal food additive in China, had been used in the production of the noodles. The company, which formerly sold its noodles both in China as well as overseas, was ordered to cease production and distribution. [http://english.cri.cn/2946/2006/12/07/48@171620.htm] [http://en.epochtimes.com/news/6-12-14/49354.html] [http://health.enorth.com.cn/system/2006/12/08/001484607.shtml] [http://chinaview.wordpress.com/tag/life/food/] The [http://www.deshengda.com company's website] has since been shut down.

Adulterated pickled vegetables

In June 2004, the Chengdu Quality Inspection Department released figures that only about 23% of all pickled vegetables produced in Chengdu had an acceptable amount of chemical additives. The labels on the pickled vegetables that was supposed to indicate the chemical content were also found to be inaccurate. In Sichuan, the factories had been using industrial-grade salt to pickle the vegetables and had been spraying pesticides containing high amounts of DDVP on the pickled vegetables before shipment. [ Zhou, Qing. "China's Food Fears, Part 1." China Dialogue. September 14, 2006. [http://www.chinadialogue.net/article/show/single/en/374-China-s-food-fears-part-one- China Dialogue] ]

Counterfeit alcoholic drinks

In Spring 2004, four men died of alcohol poisoning in Guangdong Province and eight other men were hospitalized in the People's Hospital of Guangzhou. Wang Funian and Hou Shangjian, both from Taihe Town, died in May after drinking liquor bought from the same vendor. Two other men, one a migrant worker, died the previous night in Zhongluotan in Hunan Province. Authorities in the local health department suspected that the makers of the fake liquor blended industrial alcohol and rice wine, and closed several unlicensed liquor manufacturers. [ "Guangdong launches inspection on bulk liquor following four toxic alcohol deaths." People's Daily Online, Xinhua. May 16, 2004. [http://english.people.com.cn/200405/16/eng20040516_143420.html People's Daily News] ]

oy sauce made from human hair

Stories began circulating in the press about cheap soy sauces made from human hair. These sauces were manufactured in China using a chemical amino acid extraction process similar to artificially hydrolyzed soy sauces and then quietly exported to other countries. An investigative report that aired on Chinese television exposed the unsanitary and potentially contaminated sources of the hair:In response, the Chinese government banned production of soy sauces made from hair.

Incidents in 2005

udan I Red Dye

In 1996, China banned food manufacturers from using Sudan I red dye to color their products. China followed a number of other developed nations in banning the dye due to its links to cancer and other negative health effects. However, officials in the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the State Bureau of Industry and Commerce, and the State Food and Drug Administration discovered in 2005 that Sudan I was being used in food in many major Chinese cities. In Beijing, the Heinz Company added the red dye to chili sauce; in Guangdong, Zhejiang, Hunan, and Fuzhou provinces, the red dye was discovered in vegetables and noodles. Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) used the red dye in its 1,200 restaurants, and medicine in Shanghai also contained Sudan I.

Companies in China had been using Sudan I illegally for years before 2005, and government officials gave two reasons why the 1996 ban had not been adequately enforced. The first reason was that there were too many agencies overseeing food production, creating loopholes and inefficiency. The second reason was that the government agencies were not equipped or trained with the food testing equipment that could have detected the dye earlier. Officials announced that they would begin to reform the food safety system on national and local levels. [ Yan, Hu. "Red Dye a 'Food for Thought' for Chinese." People's Daily. March, 31, 2005. [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/english/doc/2005-03/31/content_429921.htm People's Daily News] ]

Incidents in 2006

Counterfeit drugs

The State Food and Drug Administration reported that their officials had resolved 14 cases involving fake drugs and 17 cases involving "health accidents" at drug manufacturing facilities. [ "China to Tighten Drug Safety Checks." China Daily. February 27, 2007. [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-02/27/content_815284.htm Xinhua] ] One of these incidents involved fake Armillarisni A; ten people injected with the fake drug died in May, 2006. [ "Death Toll Over Fake Drug Rises to 9." Xinhua. May 22, 2005. [http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2006-05/22/content_4582672.htm Xinhua] ] [ "Death Toll in Fake Drug Cases Rises to Ten." Xinhua. June 3, 2006. [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2006-06/03/content_607865.htm Xinhua] ] The drug quality inspectors at the factory that produced the Armillarisni A drugs failed to notice that the chemical diglycol had been added to to drugs. In July, 2006, six people died and 80 more became sick after ingesting an antibiotic with disinfectant as an ingredient. [Barboza, David. "China Orders Investigation into Drug Industry." BBC News. February 9, 2007. [http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/02/09/news/drugs.php BBC News] ] In 2006, the government also "revoked the business licenses of 160 drug manufacturers and retailers." [Barboza, David. "China Orders Investigation into Drug Industry." BBC News. February 9, 2007. [http://www.iht.com/articles/2007/02/09/news/drugs.php BBC News] ]

chool food poisoning

On September 1, 2006, more than 300 students at Chongzhou City Experimental Primary School in China's Sichuan Province got food poisoning after lunch. Of those, approximately 200 students had to be hospitalized due to headaches, fevers, vomiting, and diarrhea. The school was temporarily closed for an investigation. [ "200 remain hospitalized for food poisoning in southwest China" Food Poison Blog. September 5, 2006. [http://www.foodpoisonblog.com/2006/09/articles/-food-poisoning-watch/200-remain-hospitalized-for-food-poisoning-in-southwest-china/ Food Poison Blog] ] On the same day, middle school students in China's Liaoning Province also got food poisoning after eating dinner at school. The Ministry of Education ordered an investigation, and officials suspected that the cause of the food poisoning was unsanitary conditions at the schools. During summer vacation, the schools had not been cleaned or disinfected, and the pupils might have been exposed to unsanitary food or drinking water when they returned in September. ["China's schools urged to improve sanitation after food poisoning cases" People's Daily. Xinhua. September 7, 2006. [http://english.people.com.cn/200609/07/eng20060907_300590.html People's Daily] ]

Contaminated turbot fish

In late 2006, officials in Shanghai and Beijing discovered illegal amounts of chemicals in turbot. As "The Epoch Times" explained, "China started importing turbot from Europe in 1992. Currently, China's annual output is 40,000 tons. Since turbot have weak immune systems, some farmers use prohibited drugs to maintain their productivity, as their fish-farming technologies are not sufficient to prevent disease." [ "Carcinogenic Turbot Fish Affects China's Market" The Epoch Times. December 2, 2006. [http://en.epochtimes.com/news/6-12-2/48869.html Epcoh Times] ] Shanghai officials from the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration found carcinogenic nitrofuran metabolites in the fish and Beijing found additional drugs, including malachite green, in its fish. Other cities, including Hangzhou, have begun testing turbot fish and banning the turbot shipped from Shandong Province. Many restaurants in Shanghai, Beijing, and Hong Kong stopped purchasing turbot after officials discovered the high amounts of illegal antibiotics. [ "Shandong Turbot farmers in crisis following sales slump" The Fish Site. December 22, 2006. [http://www.thefishsite.com/fishnews/3281/shandong-turbot-farmers-in-crisis-following-sales-slump The Fish Site News] ]

Pesticide residue on vegetables

In early 2006, Greenpeace tested vegetables in two Hong Kong grocery stores, Parknshop and Wellcome, and discovered that over 70% of their samples were covered in pesticide residue. Thirty percent of their vegetable samples exceeded safe levels of pesticides and several tested positive for illegal pesticides, such as DDT, HCH and Lindane. Greenpeace explained that nearly 80% of vegetables in these grocery stores originated from mainland China. John Chapple, manager of Sinoanalytica, a Qingdao-based food analysis laboratory, supplemented Greenpeace's information. He was not surprised by the findings and explained that farmers in China have little knowledge of correct pesticide use. [ Patton, Dominique. "Pesticide residues still high in Chinese vegetables." AP-FoodTechnology.com. April 25, 2006. [http://www.ap-foodtechnology.com/news/ng.asp?n=67278-sinoanalytica-greenpeace-vegetables-pesticide AP] ]
Although many Chinese farms are converting to organic agriculture, pesticide use in many areas remains high. [ [http://www.panna.org/resources/gpc/gpc_200112.11.3.04.dv.html PANNA: Sea of Pesticides Surrounds China's Organic Farms | Pesticide Action Network North America ] ]

Infected snail meat

In June, July, and August 2006, the Shuguo Yanyi Restaurant in Beijing served raw Amazonian snail meat and, as a result, 70 diners were diagnosed with angiostrongylus meningitis. The snail meat contained "Angiostrongylus cantonesis", "a parasite that harms people's nervous system" causing headaches, vomiting, stiff necks, and fevers. [ Xiaofeng, Guan. "70 diners sick after eating raw snails." China Daily. [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2006-08/22/content_670619.htm China Daily] ] No one died from the meningitis outbreak and the Beijing Municipal Office of Health inspection did not find any more raw snails in 2,000 other restaurants. However, the Beijing Municipal Office of Health prohibited restaurants from serving raw or half-cooked snails and disciplined the Shuguo Yanyi Restaurant. The Beijing Friendship Hospital, where the first meningitis case was treated, began a program to educate doctors on the treatment of angiostrongylus meningitis. The Guangzhou Center for Disease Control and Prevention explained that these meningitis cases were the first outbreaks since the 1980s. [ "Snail meningitis patients to claim for group compensation." People's Daily. August 22, 2006. [http://english.people.com.cn/200608/22/eng20060822_295665.html] ]

Poisonous mushrooms

In December 2006, sixteen diners were hospitalized after eating a poisonous variety of boletus mushrooms in Beijing at the Dayali Roast Duck Restaurant. The mushrooms caused nausea, vomiting, and dizziness and the ill diners were treated at the Bo'ai Hospital and the 307 Hospital of the People's Liberation Army. [ "Sixteen Diners Fall Sick After Eating Mushrooms in Beijing." China.org.cn, Xinhua. December 29, 2006. [http://www.china.org.cn/english/health/194394.htm China.org.cn] ]

In November 2006, Chinese authorities at the Ministry of Health had warned of the rising number of mushroom poisonings. "From July to September, 31 people were killed and 183 were poisoned by toxic mushrooms." [ "Health Ministry Warns of Household Dining Safety." ChinaGate.com.cn. Xinhua. November 9, 2006. [http://www.chinagate.com.cn/english/medicare/49222.htm ChinaGate.com.cn] ] Officials worried that the public could not accurately separate edible mushrooms from poisonous ones.

Incidents in 2007

Counterfeit drugs

According to John Newton of Interpol, Chinese organized crime is involved in working across national boundaries and faking drugs on an industrial scale, now appearing throughout Africa. [cite web
title="Chinese Gangs Behind Fake Drugs"
url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6718645.stm
date=June 4 2007
accessdate=2007-06-19
publisher=BBC News
] China Central Television cited an official saying those making the false albumin were making a 300% profit, assisted by shortages of the genuine product. [cite web
title="Chinese Hospitals Used Fake Drips"
url=http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6742293.stm
date=June 11 2007
accessdate=2007-06-19
publisher=BBC News
]

Potential carcinogen used in frying oil

In March 2007, the Guangzhou Information Times accused Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) of adding oil filtering powder, magnesium trisilicate, to its frying oil. It reported that KFC restaurants in several cities in the northwest Shaanxi Province used this chemical so that the frying oil could be used repeatedly for up to ten days. KFC argued that the additive was safe by United States and international standards, but health officials in Xianyang, Yulin, and Xi'an, all cities in the Shaanxi Province, inspected their local KFCs and confiscated the frying powder. Gaungzhou city officials also began in investigation into the frying oils, and the cities requested that the Ministry of Health step in. ["KFC food safety scares the public again." China Daily. March 9, 2007. [http://www.chinadaily.com.cn/china/2007-03/09/content_823985.htm China Daily] ] [ "KFC Responds To Health Department Warning In China." China Franchiser. March 13, 2007. [http://www.chinafranchiser.com/2007/03/13/515-kfc-responds-to-health-department-warning-in-china/] ] KFC claimed that the oil filtering powder had not caused health problems and met local and international standards, but local Chinese authorities claimed that reusing the powder decreased its nutritional value and was connected to cancer.

Contaminated wheat gluten and rice protein used for export

In May 2007, The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine (AQSIQ) confirmed that two domestic companies had exported melamine-contaminated wheat gluten and rice protein blamed for the deaths of dogs and cats in the United States.cite news
last=Gao
first=Ying
title=China names and shames companies for exporting substandard food products |url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-07/10/content_6355043.htm
publisher=Xinhua |date=July 10 2007 |accessdate=2007-12-02
] In August 2007, AQSIQ introduced recall systems for unsafe food products and toys and on December 3, 2007, China ordered 69 categories of products to be bar-coded at factories amid efforts to improve product safety, in response to several recent incidents, including: "scares rang [ing] from ducks and hens that were fed cancer-causing Sudan Red dye to make their egg yolks red, to pet food made of melamine-tainted wheat protein that killed scores of dogs and cats in the United States." cite news
last=Yao
first=Siyan
title=China unveils recall systems for unsafe food, toys |url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-08/31/content_6639019.htm
publisher=Xinhua |date=August 31 2007 |accessdate=2007-12-02
] cite news
last=Sun
first=Yunlong
title=China orders bar codes for safety monitoring of 69 product categories |url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2007-12/04/content_7196294.htm
publisher=Xinhua |date=December 4 2007 |accessdate=2007-12-10
] See also 2007 pet food crisis.

Incidents in 2008

Tainted Chinese dumplings

In January 2008, several Japanese people in the Hyōgo and Chiba prefectures fell ill after consuming Chinese-produced "jiaozi" (pork dumplings) tainted with the insecticide methamidophos. [cite news|title=10 sick after eating tainted 'gyoza' from China
url=http://search.japantimes.co.jp/rss/nn20080131a2.html
publisher=Japan Times
date=January 31 2008
accessdate=2008-01-31
] [cite news|title=10 fall ill after eating frozen 'gyoza' made in China
url=http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200801300387.html
publisher=Asahi Shimbun
date=January 31 2008
accessdate=2008-01-31
] [cite news|title=10 fall ill after eating Chinese-made dumplings containing insecticide
url=http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20080130p2a00m0na019000c.html
publisher=Mainichi Shimbun
date=January 31 2008
accessdate=2008-01-31
] [cite news|title=62 more victims uncovered in poisoned dumpling case
url=http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20080131p2a00m0na021000c.html
publisher=Mainichi Shimbun
date=January 31 2008
accessdate=2008-01-31
] [cite news|title=China-made dumplings sicken 10
url=http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080131TDY01305.htm
publisher=Yomiuri Shimbun
date=January 31 2008
accessdate=2008-01-31
] [cite news|title=China dumplings spark food scare in Japan
url=http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUST17508220080131
publisher=Reuters
date=January 31 2008
accessdate=2008-01-31
] The dumplings had been produced by the Tianyang Food Plant in Hebei Province [cite news|title=Fallout spreading over tainted 'gyoza'
url=http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200802010083.html
publisher=Asahi Shimbun
date=2008-02-01
accessdate=2008-08-07
] and sold by JT Foods and the Japanese Consumers' Co-operative Union. Kyodo News reported that about 500 people complained of agonies. [cite news|url=http://www.theage.com.au/news/world/tokyo-warns-beijing-after-toxic-food-scare/2008/02/01/1201801037110.html|title=Tokyo warns Beijing after toxic food scare|publisher=The Age|date=2008-02-01|accessdate=2008-03-09] On February 5, 2008, Hyōgo and Chiba prefectural police announced that they were treating these cases as attempted murder. [cite news|title=Pesticide found in 'gyoza' package|url=http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200802050082.html
publisher=Asahi Shimbun
date=2008-02-05
accessdate=2008-08-07
] and both prefectural police departments established a joint investigation team.

When Japanese police and other prefectural authorities inspected the recalled dumplings, they found pesticides other than methamidophos, including Dichlorvos and Parathion. [cite news|url=http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200802050394.html|title=Different poison found in 'gyoza'|publisher=Asahi Shimbun|date=2008-02-06|accessdate=2008-08-07] [cite news|url=http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200802110044.html|title=Pesticide on more dumpling packages|publisher=Asahi Shimbun|date=2008-02-11|accessdate=2008-08-06] [cite news|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5j1sJOW6YN7A2ZuVgrqZ-t-J4r2CA|title=Japan police find more pesticide on China dumpling packages
publisher=AFP|date=2008-02-03|accessdate=2008-08-06
] [cite news|url=http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080222a6.html|title='Gyoza' in Miyagi yields new pesticide
publisher=Japan Times|date=2008-02-22|accessdate=2008-08-07
] The Japanese National Police Agency found these toxins in packages that were completely sealed, [cite news|title=Pesticide found inside sealed 'gyoza' package|url=http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200802080490.html
publisher=Asahi Shimbun
date=2008-02-09
accessdate=2008-08-07
] [cite news|title=Top Chinese Official Tries to Calm Food Fears in Japan |url=http://www.flex-news-food.com/pages/14420/China/Food-Safety/Japan/top-chinese-official-tries-calm-food-fears-japan-dj.html
publisher=Dow Jones Newswires
date=2008-02-21
accessdate=2008-08-07
] concluding that it would have been nearly impossible to insert such toxins into the packages from the outside. [cite news|title=Pesticide in 'gyoza' unlikely Japan's|url=http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200802180057.html
publisher=Asahi Shimbun
date=2008-02-18
accessdate=2008-08-07
] They provided the test results to the Ministry of Public Security of China (MPS) at the conference held in Tokyo from February 21 to 22, and 25 to 27, 2008 in Beijing. [cite news|title=Japan, China officials discuss 'gyoza' scare|url=http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200802220063.html
publisher=Asahi Shimbun
date=2008-02-22
accessdate=2008-08-07
]

Investigations jointly held by both the Chinese and Japanese governments cleared the Chinese company of responsibility after finding no traces of any poison in the raw material used nor in the factory. [cite news|title=Japan: China dumpling poisoning may be deliberate
url=http://www.reuters.com/article/rbssConsumerGoodsAndRetailNews/idUST17119620080205
publisher=Reuters
date=Feb 5 2008
accessdate=2008-02-08
] [cite news|title=Factory not at fault in Dumpling Poisoning?
url=http://tothecenter.com/news.php?readmore=4162
publisher=To The Center
date=Feb 5 2008
accessdate=2008-02-08
] Officials are now treating this incident as a deliberate poisoning, and an investigation is underway. [cite news|title=Factory not at fault in Dumpling Poisoning?
url=http://www.japannewsreview.com/society/national/20080207page_id=3911
publisher=Japan News Review
date=Feb 5 2008
accessdate=2008-02-08
] On February 28, 2008 the MPS criminal investigation bureau announced that there was little chance that methamidophos had been put into the dumplings in China, and declared that the Japanese police had rejected the requirement by the MPS to check the scene, relative material evidences, and test reports, thus information on the evidence was not fully provided to the MPS. [cite news|url=http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-02/28/content_7684951.htm|title=State watchdogs: dumpling poisoning is case of sabotage|work=China View|date=2008-02-28|accessdate=2008-02-29] On the same day, Hiroto Yoshimura, the Comissionor-General of Japan's National Police Agency, argued against the Chinese authorities that the Japanese had already offered test results and photographic evidence and claimed that some part of China's assertion "cannot be overlooked". [cite news|url=http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080229a1.html|title=Beijin pins 'Gyoza' blame on Japan end|publisher=Japan Times|date=2008-02-29|accessdate=2008-08-07] [cite news|url=http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200803030060.html|title=EDITORIAL: Tainted dumplings|publisher=Asahi Shimbun|date=2008-03-03|accessdate=2008-08-06] They asked Chinese authorities to offer the basis and evidence. [cite news|url=http://afp.google.com/article/ALeqM5hTbW0D1LSOiWCp1k43vR2fi2GLRg|title=China deflects blame in Japan dumpling row|publisher=AFP|date=2008-02-27|accessdate=2008-08-10]

On August 5, 2008, Japanese media revealed that some Chinese people who had eaten the recalled Chinese dumplings made by Tianyang Food had also become sick after the incident in Japan, in mid-June 2008; the cause was again found to have been methamidophos contamination. [cite news|url=http://mdn.mainichi.jp/national/news/20080806p2a00m0na005000c.html|title=Consumer in China also suffered food poisoning after eating dumplings|publisher=Mainichi Shimbun|date=2008-08-06|accessdate=2008-08-06] [cite news|url=http://www.nni.nikkei.co.jp/AC/TNKS/Nni20080806D06JF417.htm|title=China Admits Domestic Food Poisoning From Dumplings|publisher=Nihon Keizai Shimbun|date=2008-08-06|accessdate=2008-08-06] [cite news|url=http://www.asahi.com/english/Herald-asahi/TKY200808060395.html|title=Tainted "gyoza" sicken Chinese|publisher=Asahi Shimbun|date=2008-08-07|accessdate=2008-08-07] [cite news|url=http://search.japantimes.co.jp/cgi-bin/nn20080807a1.html|title=China 'gyoza' poisonings hushed up|publisher=Japan Times|date=2008-08-07|accessdate=2008-08-07] [cite news|url=http://www.reuters.com/article/healthNews/idUSSP1316620080807?pageNumber=1&virtualBrandChannel=0|title=Japan says dumplings "cover-up" was China's request|publisher=Reuters|date=2008-08-07|accessdate=2008-08-07] The Chinese government alerted the Japanese government to this fact just before the 34th G8 summit in July 2008. The "Yomiuri Shimbun" reported that this incident has increased the suspicion of foods produced in China. [cite news|url=http://www.yomiuri.co.jp/dy/national/20080807TDY01303.htm|title=Tainted gyoza in China tied to Japan cases|publisher=Yomiuri Shimbun|date=2008-08-07|accessdate=2008-08-07]

Contaminated powdered ginger

In July 2008, it was announced that the Whole Foods supermarket chain in the United States had been selling powdered ginger produced in China, which was labeled as organic, but when tested was found to contain the banned pesticide Aldicarb. [http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0708/538424.html] [http://www.wjla.com/news/stories/0808/541588.html ] [http://media.wholefoodsmarket.com/pr/wf/national/7-25-08gingerrecall.aspx] The ginger had been mistakenly certified organic by Quality Assurance International, who relied on two Chinese certifiers because, under Chinese law, foreigners may not inspect Chinese farms. [http://www.alternet.org/environment/94146/is_your_organic_food_really_organic/]

Contaminated baby formula

In September 2008, a fresh outbreak of kidney disease occurred, due to baby formula contaminated by melamine. Three babies died and over 6,000 were made sick by the tainted formula. [http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/news/world/asia/article4773716.ece] The supplier of the milk, Sanlu Group, is a name brand and is a major player in the industry in China. The company is said to have known of the problem for months, but claims the contaminant came from milk suppliers.Raymond Li, "Censorship hammer comes down over scandal", Page A5, "South China Morning Post" (16 September 2008)] Kristine Kwok, "Officials knew of tainted milk for a month", Page A4, "South China Morning Post" (17 September 2008)]

See also

* Chinese cardboard bun hoax
* Zheng Xiaoyu
* International Reaction to the 2008 Dairy Scandal

References


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