U.N. Criticizes China’s Food Safety Measures

Chinese companies’ struggles with toxic food products continues.  In the past month there have been cases of toxic milk, eggs, and animal feed; now, traces of melamine have been found in protein powder in Taiwan, causing the Department of Health to ban all imports of China-made protein powder, an ingredient found in “ham, vegetarian ham, tempura and cakes”.

The United Nations has criticized China’s measures. This is being reported differently in the Western and Asian media.  The Globe and Mail writes:

China’s archaic and disjointed system of food safety has worsened its tainted-milk scandal, endangering lives and allowing crooks to exploit weaknesses in the rules, the says.

CRIEnglish.com writes:

The United Nations launched in Beijing on Wednesday a paper on food safety in China, giving recommendations on where the country could focus its energy in making improvements in the food safety system… “Food safety systems are always a work in progress, but there are certainly key areas where China can focus for improvement,” said Jorgen Schlundt, director of the Department of Food Safety, Zoonoses and Foodborne Diseases, World Health Organization (WHO) Headquarters.

In response to this criticism, the Chinese government is drafting a tougher food safety law:

A new draft tabled to lawmakers on Thursday had added a provision scrapping a controversial system allowing local food watchdog agencies to grant exemptions to food producers for government quality inspections… Sanlu Group, the company at the heart of the tainted formula scandal, and other Chinese companies later found to have produced melamine-tainted milk products had enjoyed the exemptions before the scandal broke last month.

The new draft also compels local governments to issue recall orders to companies that do not proactively pull problem products from the market, and strengthens provisions “to prevent the improper use and misuse of food additives”, the agency said… China sacked officials in Shijiazhuang, home to Sanlu, for sitting on a report from the company about the melamine problem for more than a month, while Beijing hosted the Olympics in August.

China has tried to repair confidence in its dairy products, inviting journalists to milk stations and conducting regular tests for melamine, but rarely a day goes by without a new recall of Chinese made food products announced by a foreign watchdog.

When representatives of the Chinese and Taiwanese governments meet November 3rd , the discussion of food safety will be a priority.

For further information, see past CDT posts  on food safety.

(Image courtesy of Wikipedia.)

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