Illegal use of additives in food at alarming levels: China

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 25th February 2009

Chinese health chiefs yesterday promised harsh punishments for those guilty of the production, sale and use of illegal additives in food as they continue a nationwide campaign to improve the food system.

“Some lawless people are still using high technologies to develop food counterfeiting techniques to challenge the supervision capability of law enforcement departments,” Vice-Health Minister Chen Xiaohong said during a video conference briefing on the initial stage of the four-month campaign, according to Xinhua.

“Some food businesses still lack a grasp of the harmfulness and severity of illegal additives,” he added. “Their commitment to correcting this is not high.”

Chen suggested that “unspoken secrets” in some sectors still existed, alluding to practices such as adding melamine to dairy products to falsify protein test results. In fact, the Chinese crackdown was initiated after the criminal contamination of milk powder led to the deaths of six infants and around 300,000 illnesses.

Law enforcement personnel had investigated 1,274 cases involving the illegal use or misuse of additives after receiving public tip-offs and complaints, with four arrests resulting from the crackdown to date.

More than 770,000 law enforcement personnel are to check over one million food manufacturers in China throughout the first stage of the campaign.

“The authorities will lay bare companies that fail to rectify their problems, and root out the production sources of illegal additives, and severely punish those who deliberately produce, sell, and use illegal additives in food,” Chen warned.

The investigation will target dairy products, processed meat, rice, flour, oil, liqueurs, beverages and food additives in the next stage.