CHINA: Government can't tackle food safety alone
Posted: June 26th, 2012 - 10:15am
Source: Global Times
Food safety has become a massive concern in China in recent years, with scandals ranging from the use of "gutter oil" in restaurants to contaminated pork to poisoned milk. Is the government doing enough? Why is public trust in food safety so low? The Beijing News (BN) interviewed Chen Junshi (Chen), academician of Chinese Academy of Engineering and senior researcher from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention under the National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety, on these issues.
BN: Though you've been repeatedly slammed for it online, you still claim that "compared with other countries, China puts more efforts into food supervision." Why is that?
Chen: The Chinese government has made considerable efforts on food supervision. For instance, a number of regulations regarding food safety have been issued and the frequency of routine examinations is guaranteed. Some of China's food security standards are much stricter than that of some developed countries, including microbiological and bacterial flora criteria. Moreover, the public security authorities have set up special teams to crack down fake and poor quality food. Measures like this are not common in other countries. However, setting up a series of strict regulations should not be the end of the story. It means neither perfect government supervision nor zero hidden dangers. In fact, problems within the area of food safety are severe, and they keep haunting Chinese people.
BN: There are many loopholes in the supervision process. Will these supposedly regular examinations and special campaigns end up merely a matter of form?
Chen: Admittedly, the issues you mentioned do exist in some places in China. But we cannot go to extremes on this point. When it comes to food safety, ordinary Chinese people tend to believe that the government should be in charge of everything. Under the circumstances, if there are food-related scandals, the government is always the only party people blame. However, it is not the whole picture. Food manufacturers ought to take more responsibility than the government. I have always stuck to this stand. If the food producers don't act in good faith, none of the regulations will take effect, no matter how strict they are.