CHINA: A safety net of holes
Posted: May 31st, 2011 - 7:15pm
Source: Global Times
Ten days after yet another food-safety scandal hit China's media, a former high-ranking food inspector couldn't take it any longer and had to speak out.
The retired official said the recent exposé hitting a subsidiary of the country's biggest pork manufacturer, Shuanghui Food, shouldn't have come as a surprise. He laid the blame for a banned substance found in the company's pig feed on a lax inspection system and lazy food inspectors who often find themselves in conflicts of interest.
"China officially banned clenbuterol back to 2002, but the discovery that it was being used at Shuanghui Foods shows we never got rid of it," said the former official, referring to the banned, fat-burning additive that has been used illegally by athletes to lose weight and Shuanghui Foods to make leaner pork.
The official told the Global Times, on condition that he would not be named, that abuse of chemical additives by food producers is widespread and the root of the problem lies with the inspection process and the country's regulatory framework.
A large part of the blame for the Shuanghui scandal has been placed squarely on the shoulders of government officials. Of the 39 people investigated in the Shuanghui case, 22 government officials have been charged with negligence.
In its news release following the incident, Shuanghui Foods boasted that its plant undergoes 18 inspection processes, but failed to explain how the contaminated feed made it past the inspectors.
In case after case it has been media reports – not inspectors – that have alerted the public to dangerous food-processing practices.
Some cases, such as the melamine milk scandal that killed six children and sickened 300,000 in 2008, only came to light after people sickened by the contaminated food showed up at hospitals.