China Cracks Down on Food Safety
Authorities in China's political and financial capitals plan crackdowns on companies that violate food-safety regulations, after scrutiny of drugs given to locally served chickens.
The crackdowns in Beijing and Shanghai mark a new effort by local authorities to bolster food safety in a country increasingly worried about what it consumes. But analysts question whether such measures will be effective in changing China's slack attitude to food safety.
In a statement posted on its website and dated Thursday, the Shanghai Municipal Food Safety Committee said food companies found engaging in any of 11 types of harmful food-safety practices would be blacklisted and prevented from engaging in the food business, and barred from receiving subsidies from the government or benefiting from preferential government policies.
The harmful practices would include the production of food from inedible substances or dangerous materials, or using prohibited food additives. Executives of the companies would also face censure under the new rules.
Shanghai Municipal Food Safety Committee officials weren't available for comment.
Separately, the state-run Xinhua news agency later Thursday said Beijing would soon introduce its own tighter food-safety laws. Food producers or vendors will be banned from the sector for life if they produce or sell unsafe food, it said, while executives of companies that commit violations won't be allowed to operate in the industry for five years. It also bans the reuse of discarded oil, called gutter oil, a persistent problem in China.
Though the Shanghai notice didn't mention it, the city has been in the food-safety spotlight in recent weeks following a report by state-run China Central Television that alleged suppliers to Yum Brands Inc. YUM +0.65% ─owners of the KFC chain─had improperly used antibiotics and questioned the company's food-safety practices.
Subsequent tests by the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration of samples of raw chicken taken from a Yum facility in Shanghai found the KFC arm had complied with government limits on antibiotics. But the authority said more tests were needed after the discovery of what it called suspicious levels of an antiviral drug. While the antiviral drug─amantadine, commonly used to fight influenza─currently isn't limited under Chinese law, authorities said they wanted to consult with experts to create a standard for its use in agriculture.
KFC has previously said it is committed to food safety and that it is cooperating with authorities. If referred questions to its U.S. headquarters, and people there weren't immediately available for comment.
China has had many food-safety scares in recent years. Many analysts blame on the country's highly fragmented agricultural sector, which they say makes monitoring of farming practices almost impossible
Some food-safety experts questioned the effectiveness of the latest approach proposed by the Shanghai authorities. 'Safe food depends on production, not on supervision,' said Wu Yongning, chief scientist of the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment. 'All that's needed is credibility--credible people will produce safe food.'
Polls of Chinese public sentiment show increasing worries about food after scandals involving everything from dairy to eggs to gelatin capsules. The issue galvanized the public in 2008 when dairy producers were discovered to have added the industrial chemical melamine to baby formula, causing the deaths of six infants and illnesses in 300,000 others.
'The challenge has been for regulators to catch the violating companies before the companies' practices become a national food safety and media crisis,' said James Rice, CEO of CSM CSM.AE +0.31%China, a unit of Dutch bakery-products supplier CSM. Calling the new law an 'additive,' Mr. Rice said, 'China's enforcement agencies have enough authority to enforce the law, and we have seen them resolve food safety crisis issues effectively in the past.' But he adds that 'regulators are stretched to the limit of their manpower, given that there are literally hundreds of thousands of small food producers in the country.'
In the U.S., the Food and Drug Administration announced new rules in April to reduce the use of antibiotics. The FDA estimates farm animals consumed 29.1 million pounds of antibiotics in 2010, up from 28.7 million pounds a year earlier, although animals are tested to ensure there are no residues in meat.
European Pressphoto Agency
雖然上海方面的通知沒有提及﹐但近幾週來上海已經處在食品安全問題的聚光燈下。此前中國中央電視台(CCTV)播出的一則報道稱﹐肯德基(KFC)連鎖餐廳的所有人、百勝餐飲集團(Yum Brands Inc.)的供應商非法使用抗生素﹐並質疑該公司的食品安全做法。
上 海市食品藥品監督管理局隨後對取自百勝上海庫房的生雞肉樣品的檢測發現﹐肯德基遵守了政府有關抗生素使用的限制規定。但該部門表示﹐在檢出其所稱的疑似抗 病毒藥物殘留之後﹐還需要做更多測試。這種抗病毒藥物為金剛烷胺﹐通常用來對抗流感病毒。雖然中國法律目前沒有限制金剛烷胺的使用﹐但有關部門表示﹐他們 希望咨詢有關專家﹐以建立金剛烷胺在農業中的使用標準。
荷 蘭烘焙食品供應商CSM子公司CSM中國的首席執行長賴斯(James Rice)說﹐監管機構面臨的挑戰是﹐在違規企業的做法引發全國性的食品安全和媒體危機之前揪出這些公司。賴斯把新的法規稱作“添加劑”﹐他說﹐中國的執 法機構有足夠的權威來執行這部法律﹐我們已經看到他們在過去有效地解決了食品安全危機。但是他補充說﹐考慮到中國的小型食品製造商有幾十萬家﹐監管機構的 人手已經不夠用了。
在美國﹐美國食品和藥物管理局(Food and Drug Administration﹐簡稱：FDA)4月份宣佈了減少使用抗生素的新規定。FDA估計﹐2010年農場牲畜使用2,910萬磅（合1.32萬 噸）的抗生素﹐高於上一年的2,870磅﹐不過這些動物會經過檢疫﹐確保他們體內沒有殘留抗生素。