Opinion / From the Press

Deal with food safety delicately

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-07-10 09:39

The ambiguous and contradictory statements of local governments on potential food safety issues seem more threatening than the perceived (and at times real) threat itself, says an article in Beijing Youth Daily. Excerpts:

Some sparrows were found dead after eating rice strewn at a river port in Yichang, Hubei province, at the end of June. The rice had fallen out of sacks from a consignment that was scheduled to be shipped to Chongqing via the Yangtze River.

At first, the Yichang government issued a statement saying the sparrows died because they had eaten too much rice, but later it announced that the sparrows' death was caused by a pesticide called carbofuran.

The statement of the local food and drug administration that followed said that the rice had been "immediately seized and sealed and forbidden for sale". But a day later the same department said that 230 kilograms of the "sealed" rice had found its way to the local market, of which 55 kg could not be recalled.

Such contradictory statements will only spread panic among the public and increase people's concern over food safety. Like some earlier cases, it is possible that the rice was contaminated by some residual chemicals or pesticides in the containers. But local governments should be careful before releasing statements on food safety. They should look into all possibilities before reaching a conclusion and refrain from issuing contradictory statements to avoid confusing the public and spreading fears over food safety.

In short, local governments have to change their approach to food safety issues if they want to win back public trust.

The opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect those of China Daily.

(China Daily 07/10/2014 page9)

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