An army marches on its stomach, Napoleon Bonaparte once famously said, and
the People's Liberation Army (PLA) clearly believes in the dictum.
After a series of food and drug safety scandals nationwide, the PLA will
strengthen food safety for its 2.3 million servicemen, according to a circular
"To strengthen food safety is to guarantee the PLA's combat capacity," said
Zhou Pengjun, an official with the General Logistics Department, which issued
It aims to tighten supervision over all its food suppliers, which account for
90 percent of the total supply. The other 10 percent is farm produce grown by
the troops themselves around their camps.
According to the circular:
Food suppliers have to pass safety and hygiene appraisals by the local
All units must closely monitor the entire food supply chain and stop the use
of fake or substandard products.
All servicemen have to be served in separate plates at army canteens.
The majority of the combat troops dine from dishes served separately after
food safety awareness was raised following the 2003 SARS epidemic.
But non-combat forces and soldiers stationed in remote and mountainous areas
still eat from a common dish.
Priority must be given to the supervision over canteens run by civil
All canteens are required to install more disinfectors and dishwashers, and
food sampling will be done regularly.
An information sharing system will be established between the army and the
State Food and Drug Administration, and the ministries of agriculture and
(China Daily 07/13/2007 page1)