Food crises reveal flaws

Twenty-five tons of bean sprouts containing cancer-inducing additives were uncovered by police in the capital city of Liaoning Province, China News Service reported on Monday.

Eight suspects alleged to have added sodium nitrite, urea and other illegal additives were arrested for making poisonous food, according to a statement released by Shenyang police.

The news came as just the latest in a string of national scandals involving food.

The country is suffering from serious “dishonesty and moral degradation,” Premier Wen Jiabao warned, as scandals like the poisonous milk and dyed steamed buns emerged one after another. 

Peddlers sell vegetables at a market in China

They underscored “the urgency of cultural and moral construction” in China, Wen told senior governance counselors on Thursday.

“Without high-quality citizens or ethical strength, China can’t be a respectable economy or a power in a real sense,” he said.
China has stressed political education in recent decades but neglected education on core values like “respecting law and life, being filial and honest,” Chen Shaofeng, deputy director of the Cultural Industry Research Institute at Peking University, told the Global Times on Monday.

An urgent problem yet to be answered, Chen said, is how to establish these values and ensure their effect upon guiding personal behavior.

“The answer lies in establishment of the rule of law and reform of systems, which touches on every aspect of our society including transparency of information and offering the public veto rights to promote or demote an official.”

China suffered the Sanlu milk powder scandal in 2008, leaving some 300,000 infants diagnosed with kidney stone problems.

Senior officials pledged to solve food safety problems, yet their words so far have failed to deter illegal practices from arising in the industry.

Two more this year were Shuanghui Group meat products with illegal additives and thousands of steamed buns in Shanghai supermarkets found to have been dyed.

“We assumed problems in the food sector are more serious as they concerns everyone’s health, but in fact it is not just a problem with the food sector,” Sang Liwei, a lawyer who participated in the revision of the Food Safety Law, told the Global Times.

China has reached a stage where “consistent actions” should be taken to create a system where “goodness is encouraged and evil is punished,” he argued.

Punishments and penalties are insufficient, Sang believed, mentioning the 10-year sentences meted out in the deadly Sanlu milk scandal.

“The input into food security – involving dedicated funding, professional supervision and publicity – is far from enough too,” he said.

Source: Global Times

Photo: Google

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