China

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

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© 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.

Related topics: Food fraud, Industry news

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