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kongli

Food safety in China.

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imron

And this is the crux of the problem - plenty of rumors, sometimes conflicting, and no real way of verifying the truth, all leading to an erosion of trust in the food supply-chain.

So even if in reality there's no problem, there's still a worry, because you never know for sure, and maybe the problems are just being covered up - like the melamine in the milk scandal which was discovered a couple of months before the Olympics, and kept under wraps until the Olympics were over. :roll:

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Kenny同志

I am shocked and infuriated by this blog post, a post on how we Chinese poison each other, or rather how we kill each other.

These stupid Chinese think they’re wise in that they don’t eat the gross, poisonous food they make and sell yet they forget others think the same way as they do. Consequently, we innocent consumers suffer, along with these 喪盡天良的王八蛋 themselves (sorry for the expletive).

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heartofthematter2013

i'm curious though, these dishonest food manufacturers produce dangerous food, do the same people just don't buy food not made by themselves. i read reports saying the dishonest ones have seperate batches, a traditonal method group(assumably safe) for themselves and a chemical one for commercialization.

this is kinda crazy in a way, how can people be sure what they do don't come back to bite them in the hiney?

and what do rich people and powerful politicans eat? do they eat the same source as common folks or a seperate certified source?

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Lu

据说 there's an organic garden in the outskirts of Beijing where the food for Zhongnanhai is grown. The rich people perhaps just import all their food.

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knickherboots

Thanks, roddy, for the interesting link. One thing that it doesn't mention is how the concept of "tribute" existed for a long time in China--it didn't just start as a Soviet Russian concept: it was a form of taxation for thousands of years. Not only were rice and other grains collected by the governing authorities--the common people had to provide all sorts of local specialties, including luxury and medicinal items. The concept that ranking officials have access to special goods, or a higher quality of some goods, is deeply ingrained in Chinese bureaucratic culture. It's a vestige of traditional Chinese society that coexists with China's capitalistic tendencies. There is something deeply satisfying to Chinese officials about having access to something that money literally cannot buy. Being able to enjoy something denied to many others is what privilege is all about. And when this involves access to certain food--such a fundamental human need and one that Chinese obsess about--it is no wonder that this has become an arena of heated social contention.

This also relates to the issue of why farmers will keep a special patch for their own personal consumption. Aren't they, in effect, pursuing their own policy of 特供?

上行下效

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roddy

Interesting thought.

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LukeWilson

Food is for enjoy guys so please do not looking for the safety for it. Just have it without think to much whetehr it's in China or anywhere else.

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ouyahudie

Don't eat anything made in China or your life expectancy will be shorten by 1 minute with each mouthful food you take... :P

Seriously, I don't know how I, and my family and my friends and everyone else I know who has been living in China for 25 years or more have dealt with the problem. It has been there long before "recent weeks". It's been on the news like forever. If you do a research you will find out that this is actually one of the topics brought up most frequently here and the direction the discussions lead to is almost universally the same: food is not safe here, do not trust any food made in China. I really don't know, but I just feel that we eat as normal, drink as normal and get sick as normal, I don't see much striking difference on the fundamental health condition between two people of the same social and economical levels grew up in China and overseas, respectively.

i agree! all my friends, ex boyfriends are healthy. lived all their life in China. western people worry about food safety... then go to clubs, bars, drink alcohol... i had friends work in bars in shanghai, hong kong... they told me what they put in the alcohol to dilute it... 哈哈... u worry about food and drink that stuff... the food is a lot safer...

depending where u live, u have choices. why not buy meat from a farmer, butcher? see him cut it or kill it in front of u? maybe not if u live in the city, but u can make choices too, market or supermarket, and which brand... even buy imported if u want. i think the people who worry too much die young, 只是杞人忧天吧。

the Chinese Government doesn't see food scandals as good, in the melamine scandals I think 3 people were executed? i don't remember but i think it's good, maybe people won't do it so much if they fear they will be executed :) the Olympics were a big thing but otherwise no reason to cover up... western governments and media cover things up too

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Lu

 

why not buy meat from a farmer, butcher?

Because not everyone has time and energy to look for those people, and even if you find the farmer, how do you know what he's been feeding the pig while you weren't looking yet? The rest of your post is what they call whataboutery, which is a rather unhelpful approach.

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mouse

 

I paid a lot of money for these three things when I lived in Beijing because they are important to me; I now pay a fraction of the cost or take them for granted (well ok, more like learned to appreciate a hell of a lot more) where I live.

 

Or maybe you paid a lot for these things because you could afford it? I think that clean air and safe food is probably quite important to everyone. The reason these things are now cheap for you is because your country can afford it, and the reason your country can afford it has a lot to do with global balances of power. Reading your account, it's almost as if Chinese cities are polluted because Chinese have lately been rather uncouth, not having yet dealt with pollution in the "appropriate manner" (ie, exporting it abroad to another country).

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Lu

You could perhaps make the point that the dirty air is partly because factories need energy to produce things for the west. Fair enough, still doesn't make it right that rich Chinese can afford air purifiers and poor Chinese cannot.

 

But the west has hardly exported its poisoned food to China. Gutter oil is very much a Chinese invention, as is melamine in milk powder. I don't think unsafe food is an inevitable part of growth that every country needs to go through. Cleaning the water supply costs money of course, but the water in some areas in China is downright poisonous and I wonder whether that's really because of the balance of power, or because of corruption (which is not the fault of the West).

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mouse

 

You could perhaps make the point that the dirty air is partly because factories need energy to produce things for the west. Fair enough, still doesn't make it right that rich Chinese can afford air purifiers and poor Chinese cannot.

 

But the west has hardly exported its poisoned food to China. Gutter oil is very much a Chinese invention, as is melamine in milk powder. I don't think unsafe food is an inevitable part of growth that every country needs to go through. Cleaning the water supply costs money of course, but the water in some areas in China is downright poisonous and I wonder whether that's really because of the balance of power, or because of corruption (which is not the fault of the West).

 

You seem to think I'm trying to make a simplistic West is bad, East is good argument, but I'm not. In replying to amandagmu, I was merely pointing out that their understanding of things as some sort of individual consumer issue missed the point massively, and ignored the reality of the situation.

 

It's funny that you mention milk though, as Nestle have a history of being involved in all kinds of dirty scandals all over the world, not just China. Again, I think this gets closer to the heart of the problem, which has a lot to do with the nature of global capitalism. Ditto inequality. Much corruption would be impossible without the network of offshore banks to launder and horde pilfered money, for example.

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amandagmu

 

 

Or maybe you paid a lot for these things because you could afford it? I think that clean air and safe food is probably quite important to everyone. The reason these things are now cheap for you is because your country can afford it, and the reason your country can afford it has a lot to do with global balances of power. Reading your account, it's almost as if Chinese cities are polluted because Chinese have lately been rather uncouth, not having yet dealt with pollution in the "appropriate manner" (ie, exporting it abroad to another country).

 

I couldn't afford it, that's a major reason why I left. Of course clean air and safe food are important to everyone - read the last bit of my post again. I am quite happy to see things slowly turning around. You seem to be implying that the Chinese government can't afford clean air and safe food - honestly, that's a bit too simplistic, wouldn't you say? Everywhere in the world movements to protect the environment (clean air, water, food) usually begin with consumers themselves. My point was that THAT is what I have seen on the rise among urban, especially middle and upper class, Chinese citizens. This isn't about some sort of West-centric teleology I have in my head in which I believe that China is a "developing country" that is 东亚病夫 (or some nonsense like that) and eventually they'll "catch up." Hell, I could replace "urban Chinese citizens" with "right-wing American citizens" and make an argument about the manufacturing industry disaster that plagues the U.S., or I could make a similar argument about the country I currently live in regarding stifling business rules and regulations that make it unfriendly to immigrants. In other words, I was just trying to say that it's nice to see people doing something about the food safety issues and pollution, and pressuring the government in new ways.

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Lu

 

Much corruption would be impossible without the network of offshore banks to launder and horde pilfered money, for example.

While banks have their (huge and destructive) problems, I'm pretty sure that corruption is actually older than banks. It's certainly older than globalisation and networks of offshore banks, and without offshore banks it would still prosper.

 

Of course lack of food safety is not the problem of individual consumers, I don't think anyone is arguing that. It's all over the place and affects everyone (although not equally). That's the whole point. But I don't think it's useful to blame it on capitalism or the state of the world in general, because that would really make one throw up their hands and give up, while much of it actually can be resolved even within the current system (the government is already working on cleaner energy, and if a strong food safety authority could be set up, that could help immensely). But until it's resolved on a higher level, it needs to be dealt with on the level of the individual consumer, because people in China still need to eat and breathe every day.

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mouse

 

You seem to be implying that the Chinese government can't afford clean air and safe food - honestly, that's a bit too simplistic, wouldn't you say?

 

It is, and that's why I didn't say it. In fact, I never mentioned the government. Right now China's economy relies heavily on manufacturing for export, and they're able to maintain this position (for now) due to their "competitiveness" - ie exploitation of people and resources with little concern for the impact to people's health or the environment. A similar process occurs with food safety, namely, that the most "competitive" actors win the day. If using cheap, harmful or even illegal substances to make a product means you beat the competition, you will do it. This happens more in China than say Germany because China has fewer alternatives to bring in revenue. Also, because if German companies want to do this sort of thing, they do it outside of Germany in places like China. This - as China invests heavily in Africa and South America, and companies like Foxconn move their factories to places like Indonesia - is changing. But to compare the air quality between Germany and China and act like this is a like for like comparison simply isn't fair, and ignores too much of the real reasons for the disparity. 

 

As for whether consumers will stop climate change, etc... good luck with that.

 

 

While banks have their (huge and destructive) problems, I'm pretty sure that corruption is actually older than banks. It's certainly older than globalisation and networks of offshore banks, and without offshore banks it would still prosper.

 

And resource depletion is older than the industrial revolution, but so what? I think the global situation - call it globalisation, capitalism or whatever - has put China in a position where it simply has to deal with environmental problems, from the biggest to the smallest, while some western countries might be able to bury their heads in the sand for a while. This means that there will indeed be changes, and hopefully many of them will come from below. As for these being consumer-driven, I just don't see any evidence for it, as it ignores one of the basic facts of capitalism: if it can be done cheaper, someone will do it cheaper. And related to that: if someone can make money from something, they will. It takes a lot to halt this process, consumerism on its own  won't cut it, because ultimately only (comparatively) wealthy people can afford to make those kind of decisions. Even supposing that consumerism could change things in this (essentially anti-capitalist) way, China's wealth distribution as it stands now is just not up to it.

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Lu

 

But to compare the air quality between Germany and China and act like this is a like for like comparison simply isn't fair, and ignores too much of the real reasons for the disparity.

We're talking about two different issues here. You can certainly compare air quality in China and Germany and come to the conclusion that the air in Germany is cleaner. That's what's happening in most of this thread.

The question you're bringing up is that there are reasons that the air in Germany is cleaner, and that perhaps it's not all China's fault but also Germany's that Chinese air is so bad. I don't necessarily disagree with you there, it's just a different question. Also I wonder whether you're having the discussion for the sake of disagreeing, because you seem to be quoting rather selectively. Anyway, capitalism has some very bad effects, individual consumers can't solve the overall problem, and now I'm leaving this discussion.

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querido

*Why* the air is dirtier in China is not "a different question"; I don't know how else one would proceed.

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trisha2766

Just read this whole thread and wanted to add that people might want to keep in mind what is often used as fertilizer in organic farming - animal waste, and I've heard stories of human waste sometimes being used too.  Organic doesn't always mean safer.  Not that animal waste is necessarily horrible as a fertilizer, but the animal's health factors in there too. 

 

It was mentioned cancer rates have been going up in China, also, I've heard anyway, birth defects in babies are going up as well as people with fertility problems.  On the other hand, before people had access to advanced medical technology I'm guessing many people died without realizing what it was they were dying from.  They may have had cancer but just hadn't been diagnosed with it.  And that doesn't just apply to China.  From what I understand, babies born in China with birth defects (in the past and now to some extent) probably didn't live very long, so were never counted in any statistics.  So its hard to say for certain if birth defects are increasing or not.

 

Having said all that, maybe I'm naive and too optimistic, but I really believe that for the most part people everywhere are doing the best they can given their situations.  And that life overall, including food safety, will get better. 

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