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June 30, 2007

Unsafe food in China show results of pressure to keep costs low

This week, the New York Times reported that China closed 180 plants in a food safety crackdown...

After weeks of insisting that food here is largely safe, regulators in China said Tuesday that they had recently closed 180 food plants and that inspectors had uncovered more than 23,000 food safety violations. The nationwide crackdown, which began in December, also found that many small food makers were using industrial chemicals, dyes and other illegal ingredients in making a range of food products, everything from candy to seafood. Regulators said 33,000 law enforcement officials combed the nation and turned up illegal food making dens, counterfeit bottled water, fake soy sauce, banned food additives and illegal meat processing plants. "These are not isolated cases," Han Yi, director of the administration's quality control and inspection department told the state-run media.

If this so-called "crackdown," which appears to be a thinly veiled PR stunt rather than a real effort to deal with the consequences of the enormous pressures to keep costs low - coming at the expense of our food safety - closed down so many shops, just imagine how many shut downs we would have with REAL and ENFORCEABLE food safety rules. It is important to note that this is NOT a "Chinese" problem, but a global problem manifesting itself today in China, and in many other countries where we simply hear less about it because the volume of imports in the U.S. is not as great.

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