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China Stepping Up Rural Food Safety

Food safety regulation is much more effective in urban areas of China than rural ones. (Mountain/ \Ash / flickr)

China’s Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs announced this week that law enforcement agencies will start to crack down on counterfeit and substandard food products in rural areas.

The new efforts will target instant food, snacks, alcohol, condiments, and meat and dairy, consumption of which is large in rural areas.

The campaign comes in the midst of heightened concern about food safety in [rural] China. The most publicized incident of food fraud came in 2008, when melamine was added to milk to mask its low quality, sickening thousands of children. Earlier this year, the Ministry of Education called for better food safety standards in schools.

Food safety regulation is much more effective in urban areas. According to one report, over 80% of food safety incidents and 90% of food-borne diseases originate in rural areas.

Consumers are especially concerned about pesticide residues on fruits, vegetables, and crops, adulterated food, and sanitary conditions of kitchens.

The chief of agricultural product quality at the Chinese Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said the vast majority of agricultural products met national standards. But there are still instances of farmers using banned pesticides and antibiotics.

The Minister of Agriculture and Rural Affairs said they will leave no stone unturned as they look for illegal factories and workshops, and producers who break the law may be transferred to the police.

Read More:

  • China launches food safety campaign in rural areas (Xinhua)
  • China calls for food safety checks at schools (Xinhua)
  • “One Regulatory State, Two Regulatory Regimes: understanding dual regimes in China’s regulatory state building through food safety,” Journal of Contemporary China, 2015. Vol. 24, No. 91, 119–136,
  • Tougher Standards Aim to Improve Food Safety (All-China Women’s Federation)
Alex Chambers

Alex Chambers started baking bread in a rental house in college, and has been working to achieve that perfect loaf ever since. In the meantime, he’s taught cultural studies and creative writing on campuses and in prisons and community centers, and sourdough bread-baking at Mother Hubbard’s Cupboard in Bloomington. He publishes poems and essays in various journals, when he’s not busy raising kids and roasting Brussels sprouts.

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