Report: One in every two food inspections failed in China last year
A new report by AsiaInspection found that while the majority of food inspections in China failed because of minor defects, 10% were for critical defects with an extreme case involving contamination by a large quantity of rodent fecal matter.
In 2011 51% of food inspections conducted in Mainland China failed, according to the recently published AsiaInspection 2011 Q4 Barometer by AsiaInspection, a provider of quality control services for businesses importing from Asia.
While the majority of these inspections were failed because of minor defects, 10% were for critical defects with an extreme case involving contamination by a large quantity of rodent fecal matter.
The report found that an average failure rate for non-food products in the country stands at 30%.
The deficit in food safety is supported by government figures, as China’s State Administration for Industry and Commerce said 62,000 illegal food cases were reported last year.
Additionally, the authorities stopped the operation of 43,000 unlicensed food-producing businesses found to be operating illegally and revoked the business licenses of 576 operators during the same period.
Food packaging problems pose equal risk
Food safety is not limited to only the food itself. Food packaging, with a 2011 inspection failure rate of 57% is just as critical.
“Food packaging defects may not seem critical”, says Sebastien Breteau, CEO of AsiaInspection.
“But by the time food leaves the factory and hits store shelves, toxic amounts of contaminants such as formaldehyde and lead can leech out of packaging, contaminate food and cause serious harm to consumers.”
According to FERA, the United Kingdom’s governing food and environment agency, common chemical contaminants like melamine often come from food cans and lids or from plastic food containers.
Melamine – responsible for the infamous 2008 Sanlu milk scandal sickening over 300,000 – has been found at high levels in canned dog food shipments as recently as January 2011.
Chemical contaminants commonplace in china’s food factories
Milk produced in China is back in the news as well, as China’s largest dairy company, Mengniu, in December 2011 destroyed a batch of milk contaminated with Aflatoxin, a substance commonly found in mildewed animal feed that can cause liver cancer.
The chemical was found during a random spot check by the Chinese governing body AQSIQ.
Only 10% of the batches contained the deadly chemical, meaning it was only by a slim chance that a random spot check found the defect before the product reached consumers.
Like melamine, other chemicals that are banned by the Chinese government due to deadly effects are still routinely found in shipments of food products.
According to Food and Water Watch, clembuterol – which is toxic to humans – is administered to animals to give them leaner meat and pinker skin.
“China exported over 4.5 billion tons of food in 2011,” says Mr. Antoine Bloch, AsiaPacific Vice President of Silliker – a partner of AsiaFoodInspection.
“With chemical and natural contaminants threatening food available to all of us, the need for prevention in the form of comprehensive laboratory testing has never been clearer.”
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