For safe consumption

Updated: 2012-03-15 08:06

(China Daily)

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"Consumption and safety" is the theme designated by the China Consumers' Association for this year's International Day for Protecting Consumers' Rights on March 15.

Certainly more efforts are needed to free consumers of worries about the quality of the food they eat and the commodities they use. And certainly there are other tricks food producers and sellers use to maximize their profits, aside from the underground recycling and selling of used cooking oil and the use of banned chemicals to make pigs leaner.

But it is also true that a great deal has been achieved in the crackdown on the production and sale of unsafe cooking oil and the feeding of pigs with illegal chemicals: 278 cases involving these two crimes were investigated in 2011 and 320 people were convicted as a result. Also 202 government employees were given prison sentences for their involvement. But the tug of war is far from over between the food safety watchdogs and those who seek profit with no regard to the rules and morals.

The temptation to gain by immoral or even illegal means is great. For instance, it only takes about 20 days for a pig to considerably increase its lean meat to the extent that profit soars by 277 percent, by 22 yuan ($3.5) over an 8-yuan cost.

However, the fact that substandard and even dangerous food can enter the market sends the message that there is much to be desired when it comes to the efficiency and effectiveness of the present system of supervision, inspection and quarantine.

In the investigation of lean-meat pigs, it was revealed that some quarantine workers or inspectors were bribed to green light problematic pork without quarantining it. A mechanism must be established to kick such bad apples out of the ranks of supervisors and inspectors and make sure that all of them perform their duty to the letter.

Only when the country's supervision and inspection are reliable will the market be free from unsafe food and substandard products, and only then will consumers be able to consume safe in the knowledge that they are being properly protected.

(China Daily 03/15/2012 page9)