Stiff Penalties Apply

…And the News Keeps Getting Worse

The bad news about food in China continues. Today the China Daily reports that a nationwide inspection of the food processing industry has revealed the use of various nasty additives. Dyes, mineral oils, paraffin wax, formaldehyde, and the illegal, carcinogenic fungicide malachite green were found in foodstuffs that included flour, sweets, pickles, biscuits, black fungus, melon seeds, beancurd (tofu), and seafood. A Chinese official noted that these were "not isolated cases." It's not surprising that Chinese people are becoming suspicious about the food they eat. Some of my friends seek out vegetables with insect-bites in them, on the grounds that they won't be drenched in pesticides. The problem is partly the vast scale of the country, which makes regulating its small-scale food factories difficult. But it's also about corruption. Chinese officials tend to be embroiled in commerce themselves, and they often take bribes. Last month the head of the national food and drug agency was sentenced to death for taking payoffs from pharmaceutical companies to speed up the approval of new medicines, a sign of how far up the political food chain such bad practices flourish.

Subscribe to Gourmet