China keeps an eye on safety of food supply

Insight

Is the food you eat safe? No matter where you are in the world, experts say that unless you grow the food yourself, you are at the mercy of the supplier. That means the facility that grew it, made it or sold it. Back to China, the government is making moves to make its food supply more secure and safe.

CCTV-America’s Elaine Reyes filed the report.
Follow Elaine Reyes on Twitter @ElaineReyesTV

China keeps an eye on safety of food supply

Is the food you eat safe? No matter where you are in the world, experts say that unless you grow the food yourself, you are at the mercy of the supplier. That means the facility that grew it, made it or sold it. Back to China, the government is making moves to make its food supply more secure and safe. CCTV-America's Elaine Reyes filed the report.

Highlight:

    • Last July, a Shanghai television station showed workers at a food supplier for McDonald’s repackaging expired meat for later sale. The U.S.-based fast food chain has since increased audits, implemented video monitoring and named a new food safety officer.
    • Another U.S. fast food chain, KFC, filed a lawsuit this month against three Chinese companies accusing them of starting rumors about KFC’s food. Among them, that KFC chickens have extra legs and wings.
    • The best known food safety scare includes a 2008 melamine-tainted milk scandal. It left six babies dead and over 300,000 sickened after drinking formula made from contaminated milk.

Susan Shifflett on food safety issue
Safety is just one part of the food supply chain. The other is the availability of food in the first place. CCTV-America spoke to Susan Shifflett. She’s a former Beijing resident and now works at the Wilson Center’s China Environment Forum.

Susan Shifflett on food safety issue

Safety is just one part of the food supply chain. The other is the availability of food in the first place. CCTV-America spoke to Susan Shifflett. She's a former Beijing resident and now works at the Wilson Center's China Environment Forum.


Coming Oct. 1: China’s beefed-up Food Safety Law

Later this year, a more stringent revamp of China’s 2009 Food Safety Law will go into effect. Recent food scandals — injecting clenbuterol (a fat burner) into pork, putrid, used cooking oil to prepare food, selling pork from sick pigs, medicines made with toxic gelatin, and passing off rat meat as fit for human consumption — have caused public outcries for better safety precautions. Here’s a look at some of the changes, as adopted in April:

Jail Time

Those who add inedible substances to food could find themselves behind bars for up to 15 days. Administrative detention normally refers to that imposed by police without court proceedings. This has been considered tough, as other punishments stipulated in the Food Safety Law generally involves fines and revocation of certificates.

Reparations

Consumers can demand reparation of three times any loss they suffer due to eating substandard food. Previously, only compensation of 10 times the price of the food — not the total loss, which could include days off work due to illness — was allowed.

Bigger Fines

Producers may face fines of up to 30 times the value of their products, a three-fold increase from the previous limit of 10 times the value. If the products are worth less than 10,000 yuan ($1,610), the fine can be up to 150,000 yuan — three times the previous amount.

Penalties for Landlords

Landlords of production sites who knowingly turn a blind eye to illegal activities on the premises, and suppliers who sell unlawful substances to producers, knowing that they will be added to foods, can have their revenues seized. They could also be fined up to 200,000 yuan ($32,210).

Penalties for Regulators

Officials with food and drug regulators who fail in their duty to protect the public, or participate in cover-ups, will face administrative penalties, such as demotion or dismissal. Similar punishments will be dished out to officials in health and agriculture departments. Criminal penalties could be brought for abuse of power and neglect of duty for personal gain.

Tougher Regulations for Baby Formula

Infant milk formula will be heavily regulated in efforts to restore public confidence in the domestic dairy industry.

Producers will be required to register powdered baby milk formula with the food and drug regulator. Earlier provisions stipulated that firms only needed to ensure their formulas were on record.

There are more than 1,900 varieties of baby formula available in China. Each company has around 20 varieties. In other countries, firms produce and sell only two or three.

“Some producers [are creating] new formulas purely for the sake of marketing,” said the Food and Drug Administration regulators.

In 2008, infant formula produced by the Sanlu Group, a leading dairy firm in north China, was found to contain melamine. Six babies died and thousands fell ill. As a result the Food Safety Law was enacted in 2009, but public confidence in domestic baby formula has not recovered. Instead, consumers have demanded baby formula from countries like Australia, New Zealand, and Germany, which now have strict export quotas for China.

Producers will now have to test every batch of the product, conduct regular internal inspections, and submit reports to regulators.

Buying Food Online

China’s online retail sales totaled 1.85 trillion yuan ($297.9 billion) in 2013, with food eating up a little under 2 percent of that: 32.4 billion ($5.22 billion). The amendment adds new articles on online shopping, clarifying the liabilities of shopping platforms. They are required to register the real identity of vendors and check their certificates. The platforms will have to compensate consumers if they cannot provide the identity, address, and contact details of retailers.

They can also report malpractice to the government and deny access to delinquent retailers.

Xinhua


15 foods recalled in the US over the last month you (probably) didn’t know about

Salmonella, mold, Listeria, stainless steel wire — these are a few of the reasons given for recalls noted by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration over the last 30 days. Here’s the list:

Over at the USDA (U.S. Department of Agriculture), you can check out recalls related specifically to eggs, poultry, and meats.

Why the difference between USDA food recalls and FDA food recalls? Because the USDA is responsible for the safety of meat, poultry and egg products, while the FDA regulates all other foods, according to Dr. Richard Raymond, former Under Secretary for Food Safety for the Food Safety and Inspection Service (FSIS), the USDA’s enforcement arm, in Food Safety News.