China doesn’t have the best reputation for food safety. Sometimes it seems like barely a month can go by without hearing about things like tainted moon cakes, fake eggs, and exploding watermelons. But Shanghai has declared a “crackdown” on food producers aimed at reducing the number of food scandals that make the news every year.
According to Shanghaiist, firms caught using inedible or dangerous materials or prohibited additives in food would be barred from operating in the city.
Shanghai’s food safety was called into question most recently when a China Central Television report earlier this month said suppliers to McDonalds and KFC were feeding chickens “indiscriminate” amounts of growth hormones and unapproved antibiotics, according to Businessweek.
The Wall Street Journal reports that Beijing is working to introduce its own set of tighter food-safety laws, which will include a ban on the reuse of discarded oil. Producers and vendors caught selling unsafe food would be banned from operating in the industry for life, while executives of foodservice companies could be expelled from the industry for five years.
But experts say just making tougher laws might not really solve the problem.
“The challenge has been for regulators to catch the violating companies before the companies' practices become a national food safety and media crisis,” said James Rice, chief executive of bakery-product supplier CSM China, to the Wall Street Journal. “Regulators are stretched to the limit of their manpower, given that there are literally hundreds of thousands of small food producers in the country.