Sound too freaky to be true? Think again. It's just one of the many food safety scandals that has plagued China over the years. From plastic rice pellets to tainted infant formula, safety doesn't exactly register as a priority when we think of China's food supply.
I suppose someone, somewhere, is starting to care.
Just yesterday, China's revamped Food Safety Law (FSL) went into effect. The amendments to the previous FSL were passed this past April, making significant changes for the first time in six years. The new law is intended to "clean up China's entire food supply - banning highly toxic pesticides, regulating food labelling and, importantly, increasing punishments for those who violate China's existing laws. There's a new burden of responsibility placed on everyone who handles food - from farms and fields to restaurants and food stalls."
The legislation is enforced by the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) and if found in violation, companies will be "restricted in terms of future loans, taxation, bidding and land use. Another new facet of the law is that rewards will be increased for those who blow the whistle on food safety violations within China’s borders. There will also be more supervision of food sold online. To raise public awareness, high profile food safety cases might be publicized on live TV."
For a complete rundown of the law and its changes, see here.
It appears as though the Chinese consumer will more than welcome these changes, as many who can have opted for either organic or imported options. It might also help trade relations, too, as the U.S. is no stranger to putting the red light on Chinese goods.
But like so many new laws and policies we discuss, time will tell. There remain many skeptics, and some who feel that China's vast size and large number of farmers will make policing these changes more than a little challenging. Let's hope this law is enforced, and does more than live within the confines of the CFDA.