Food safety in China is no joke — and it’s not a concern that’s limited to a handful of paranoid foreigners. It’s something that Chinese people also discuss constantly. Every other day, my coworkers would warn me about some random beverage or snack that killed someone and whether a restaurant uses “bad oil” (a.k.a. “gutter oil“), etc.
AsiaInspection figures show in 2011 51% of food inspections conducted in Mainland China failed. 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 fact that over half of all Chinese food inspections fail is even more alarming when compared to an average failure rate for non-food products of about 30%….
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 like formaldehyde and lead can leech out of packaging, contaminate food and cause serious harm to consumers.”