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China

Food safety ‘stable’ as year’s first scandal breaks in Tianjin

By RJ Whitehead , 18-Jan-2017

© iStock
© iStock

Additive overuse and microbial contamination were behind almost two-thirds of all food-safety issues in China last year, while less than 1% of infant formula failed to meet national standards.

Launching a report on random inspections in 2016 by the China Food and Drug Administration, its spokeswoman said the food-safety situation “remained stable compared with the previous year”, after almost 97% of 257,000 samples tested were found to have passed.

Dairy products in general were assessed as satisfactory, with 99.5% meeting standards, while large conglomerates were found to have been making strides in improving their food safety practices.

The CFDA did however voice concerns over heavy-metal contamination levels, use of veterinary drugs as additives and excessive amounts of pesticide residues.

"These will also be the focus of our inspections in 2017,” said Guo Wenqi, deputy director of the administration, adding that it will increase random inspections within the year.

"Results of the inspections will be publicised in a timely manner to help consumers with food choices in the market," he said.

Despite strengthened efforts to improve food safety, China still faces challenges, not least from lively hives of counterfeiting.

On Monday, a gang in northeastern Tianjin was busted for operating 50 factories that manufactured counterfeit brand-name food, including sauces and seasonings with industrial salt and leftovers. The goods were labelled as well-known brands, such as products by Nestlé and Knorr.

The village base of the gang reportedly accounts for over US$14m of fake seasoning each year, leading to Tianjin being referred to by many media as the “fake seasoning hub” of China.

The CFDA said in a statement evening that it had dispatched officers to Tianjin to investigate the claims.

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