Business / Companies

Developing a recipe for food you can trust

By Shi Jing in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2012-09-27 09:59

Food safety involves treating water because it is the most common way of ensuring food is free from contamination. "Within the long term, there is going to be pressure in many countries on water. China's got a water scarcity challenge. There is less fresh water per head in China. It's about 28 percent of the rest of the world," said Baker. "Industrial and cultural expansion puts real pressure on fresh water. All of us have to be smarter about how we use our resources."

According to the 2011-2012 China Water Treatment Medicals Market Development Report released by the China Market Research Center, the world's demand for water treatment chemicals is largely driven by ever-growing demand in China and India, up about 5.7 percent annually. The center predicted that the market volume of the world's water treatment industry will amount to $5.9 billion in 2013.

Consequently, international giants including General Electric Co, Kentucky-based specialist chemical company Ashland, and Kurita Water Industries Ltd from Japan all entered the Chinese market long ago.

Regarding food safety, Ecolab says it aims to ensure the food process minimizes bacteria. "The food safety business involves education, the design process, measurement. We do that for food and beverage manufacturers all over the world," said Baker.

His company is bringing that expertise here and partnering with the government to make sure it is in line with the food safety plans the government has put in place. "We also share best practices to educate and help the industry grow," said Baker.

For Ecolab, there are a number of challenges here, not least the huge population. There's huge advancement over a very short period of time in China. Having first visited China in 1988, Baker says he cannot recognize the country each time he comes. He says he keeps asking himself: "How can you possibly develop something so amazing right away?

"With speed, there come some challenges. This is a natural part of the great success," he said, attributing more cases of food safety alarms to increasing consciousness about the issue, advanced technologies regarding testing and a more transparent environment.

"Even in the US, food safety issues are on the decline but people think they are up because we can identify the cause, trace it back and the media is much more inclined to report them, so the problem in one part of the country is reported in another."

Ecolab will increasingly focus on the food and environment safety businesses in China, which Baker believes will be little affected by slower economic growth because they are sectors closely connected to people's everyday life.

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