80% Chinese consumers doubt beverage safety

Updated: 2011-09-20 15:59


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BEIJING - Only one in five Chinese consumers trust the quality of bottled beverages and others cite illegal additives as their major concern, according to the results of a survey released on Tuesday.

An online survey conducted by the China Youth Daily showed that dairy beverages stir up the most anxiety in consumers, with 67.8 percent of the 1,290 survey respondents doubting the quality of dairy drinks.

More than half of the survey respondents said the quality of fruit and vegetable juices concern them most, while drinks made by stores and restaurants are the third most worrisome.

The survey was conducted last week on the country's leading portal website, sina.com, after a recent spot inspection on beverage safety problems found six bottled water brands to contain excessive levels of carcinogen bromate.

About 87 percent of those surveyed worry about illegal additives in beverages, while 81.5 percent of responders also expressed concerns over whether toxic or harmful substances are mixed into beverages due to poor quality management during production.

Nevertheless, these concerns have not stopped most consumers from buying bottled drinks. Only 1.3 percent of those surveyed never buy beverages, while 36.6 percent claimed to be frequent consumers.

A majority of consumers blamed the quality watchdog and beverage producers for safety issues. In the survey, 87.5 percent said authorities had failed to conduct proper supervision and 79.7 percent believed beverage producers lacked business ethics.

The China Youth Daily quoted an anonymous industry insider as saying that some food safety supervisors lack work experience in the food industry, so they are not experienced enough to identify problems or misconduct.

Some problems can evade exposure because supervisory authorities' protectionism over local products, the source added.

Besides enhancing supervision, more efforts should be made to improve management during beverage production, like introducing good practice certification, said Tian Jianmin, a researcher with the China Safe Beverage Certification Center.