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Food safety worries rural parents
(China Daily)
Updated: 2009-11-20 13:35

Almost all parents in rural Beijing say they have concerns about the safety of the food their children eat, according to a new report.

The research on children's food safety in rural Beijing was commissioned by the Beijing Women and Children's Development Foundation and was released yesterday at the 2009 Summit of Children's Food Safety.

Researchers spoke to 2,684 children and their parents in 132 villages in 16 districts and counties.

Zhan Xiangdong, director of market research company CTR, said food safety was a problem.

"As many as 55 percent of the parents had special concerns about the safety of children's food and 44.2 percent said they were worried about children's food safety," Zhan said.

In addition, one in five families said they had experienced problems with the quality of the food, 69.8 percent of which were about expired food.

Milk products and prepared food were the biggest concerns for parents. The quality of powdered milk formulas was highly concerning for families with babies.

"The most serious concerns for parents were whether the food contained harmful substances and if it was produced by trustworthy companies," said Zhan.

About 95 percent of children said they selected food because of its taste, and many said they bought products in small stores. But according to the research, 47.7 percent of food sold in small stores had problems and many were out of date. A total of 46.8 percent of people surveyed said they did not know anything about the law on food safety.

Luo Yunbo, president of the college of food science and nutritional engineering at China Agriculture University, said many families in rural Beijing believed products from famous brands were inherently safe.

Luo said many of these families were not aware of their rights.

"The gap between urban and rural areas on people's awareness of children's food safety was due to many reasons, including their incomes and education," Luo said.

There are more than 2 million children under 12 in Beijing.