After leaving from my home country, China, and came to UK, I always miss Chinese food. Sometimes I would like to eat in Chinese restaurants. Hot Pot is my favourite. I’m very proud of Chinese delicious food, but at the same time, I am also worried about the severe circumstance of food safety in China.
These days, I focused on this topic, then I have been shocked. About worrying food safety situation in China, what I know before can just be a corner of the iceberg. I cannot believe that in order to earn more profits, people can come up with countless ideas, regardless of morality. They refined the eating oil from manure. They added Melamine to milk powder, resulting in death of 6 infants because of kidney stones and other kidney damage, and estimated 54,000 infants were hospitalised (2008 Chinese milk scandal) They made every effort to find cheap，and also harmful chemical ingredients to substitute original ingredients in food production.
In food industry, from material suppliers to food restaurants or food retailers, almost every step of food supplement chain is problematic. Food additives or other chemical materials can be added by everyone who work in food industry. People use these because they are cheap, or the cost of processing is low. Some people even don’t use any original materials. Another common use of these materials is that some food products can only keep fresh for a short period, these unethical food suppliers use additives or chemical materials to make it difficult to distinguish that it has deteriorated and cannot be eaten. Furthermore, a large number of food factories produce food in extreme messy surroundings, which is also a main concern of food safety. It can also be pointed that almost every food sub industry is unguaranteed (including dairy industry, seafood industry, meat industry…).
In order to earn more money, people can do these unethical things which can badly affected other people’s health. There is an ironic dialog. “I won’t eat that, even if I am starving, even if I will be beaten to death”, “you don’t eat what you produced?”, “ I produced it, so I know whether it is edible, whether it is tasty, it has been added pigment, it is inedible.” This is a dialog between a journalist and a food producer. The latter is the person who produced the “tainted steamed buns”.This person has been arrested. Other unscrupulous producers and merchants still do these immoral things. They hold the same view. They produce poisonous products, and they don’t eat those. However, simultaneously, they eat other food, which is produced by other people and could also be poisonous. I believe many of them have been cheated by other harmful products. For me, it’s hard to understand that why they still do that. I think there are two reasons. One is that they are only familiar with how food is produced poisonously in their related fields (for example, the person mentioned before can only know the illegal methods of steamed buns production and other similar food production). They don’t know what kind of food is also harmful to people’s health like what they produced. Another reason, definitely, is money. They don’t care how their products could badly influence their clients’ health. Even though, from another perspective, they are also the victims of supposititious food from other food producers.
Because of the exposure of Melamine Milk Powder Incident in 2008, more supposititious products have been uncovered. The number of Internet news which expose harmful food has dramatically increased. The Following graphs show the change of severe situation of food safety in different provinces of China between 2008 and 2011.
Since the millennium, Chinese awareness of food safety has been raised, and the related policies have been published and continuously revised as well. Food Safety Law of The PRC (2015) was enacted in April, which has significantly strengthened the rigor of the former version. Specifically, the regulations of milk powder have been emphasised. It stated that the prescription of infant formula should be registered with China Food and Drug Administration in advance. It has shown that Chinese government have made efforts to find out effective solutions to this. However, I think this measure cannot make a dramatic change in current Chinese society. Food unsafety is a consequence of highly complicated Chinese political status quo. We are a single-party state. We are the world’s most populous country. The corruption of officers has been criticized for a quite long term. Also, people who produce supposititious food have very ‘rich’ experience of how to protect themselves from legal sanctions. Some of them collude in officers to make substantial profits from food industry. The majority of immoral food suppliers process food in remote places to make it difficult to be found. Countless street vendors have hygiene problems. There are too many barriers to food safety. The previous experience has told us that if we want to eat healthily, our government must make some big changes.
Apart from policies, the public also should be aware that there are many things we could do to prevent ourselves from unsafe food. There are some suggestions which might be helpful.
- If possible, cook in home. Don’t eat at street vendors or small restaurants. Be careful when buy food that has been processed. Try to buy these products in reliable stores.
- Pay attention to related news. Keep away from food brands which were exposed. Although it was exposed, it is possible that it still has problems. Here is a comprehensive database of unsafe food products which have been uncovered .
This topic is really serious. It might attribute from that what I know before is too little. These days I read an article, written by a Chinese well-known witter, Yingtai Long. She strongly blamed how people in Taiwan is indifferent. The strong anger can be experienced in the whole article. This prose was written in 1980s. However, today, this is still appropriate for China. Food safety is a great difficulty, very hard to solve, but we should not be indifferent or passive. As Mrs Long said, why aren’t we angry? We should be angry about all these unethical people and despicable things. Next time, when you see a suspicious rental apartment, if you think it might be an illegal food processing place, phone a law officer, then you make a contribution to society and to yourself.