China / Society

Confidence in food safety dropping

By WANG ZHENGHUA (China Daily) Updated: 2015-03-26 07:41

Public satisfaction with and confidence in the country's food safety has dropped compared with last year, according to a research center attached to the China Food and Drug Administration.

Food safety experts said that despite the drop in consumer confidence, overall food safety in China improved in recent years because of stricter law enforcement and increasing company awareness of the issue.

According to the report, about 48 percent of those surveyed said they were unhappy about China's food safety, much higher than the 29.7 percent in 2012.

Up to 74.7 percent of respondents said they didn't have any or enough confidence in food safety improving in the future.

A number of shocking malpractices, including injecting the drug clenbuterol into pork, recycling cooking oil from leftovers in restaurant kitchens, selling pork from sick pigs, making medicine capsules with toxic gelatin and passing rat and fox meat off as mutton and beef have made headlines in China in recent years.

The biggest incident last year came in July when Shanghai Husi Food, owned by the Chinese arm of US food giant OSI Group, was found to have supplied expired meat to fast-food restaurants including McDonald's and Yum Brands in many areas of China.

More than 40 experts and scholars from about 10 institutes and colleges contributed to the report. A total of 4,258 food samples were collected from more than 10 provinces and 2,139 urban consumers were surveyed.

Zhang Yongjian, director of the Research Center for Development and Regulation of the Food and Drug Industry, said the discovery of illegal activities is decreasing.

"The country's overall food safety is definitely improving," he said.

The report also said consumers view supermarkets as the most reliable venue to buy food and they have the least confidence in small shops and mobile food vendors.

The report said 164 batches of substandard food were banned from being imported into the country in 2013, as safety of imported food remained a grave problem.

Of the six kinds of food and beverage sampled, wheat flour and formula top the list in terms of meeting standards, while bottled water, instant drinks, fruit and vegetable juice, and sodas were listed at the bottom.

The problem of pesticide residue in vegetables is improving, the report said. A test in 2013 found that 96.6 percent of vegetables met the standards for pesticide residue.

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