New figures suggest that almost half of food-processing plants in China do not meet standards accepted internationally. Each year, news of far-fetched food fraud keeps on coming. Finally, though, as of October 1, China has put a new food safety law into practice. Included in the legislation are stricter penalties for offenders, bans on toxic pesticides, and clearer food labeling regulations. According to the BBC, farming practices are relatively difficult for the government to track, and many think it will take a significant amount of time for concerned citizens to see real change. There’s definitely a balance between overly cautious and not experiencing the country to the fullest and getting sick and wishing you knew what to avoid. Here are seven tips for eating safely in mainland China.
Recent studies suggest that residue from multiple pesticides is often found on vegetables sold in Chinese markets, and some types aren’t easily removed with water. Locals shy away from buying bright red apples with no pockmarks or produce that has been sitting out but looks fresh due to additives. When buying fruits or vegetables, ask a local for help, choose the ones that don’t look too good to be true, or follow the lines to the most trusted vendors.
Every time a food scandal occurs, the Chinese government makes arrests and seizes the offending food. Lately, meat has been under fire. If you cut it out altogether, you won’t have the complete experience you traveled to China to seek. Instead, try to find a locally trusted brand or restaurant, and, again, don’t eat too much of one thing.
In recent years, news surfaced that certain vendors were using “gutter oil,” or waste oil reprocessed from sewers and slaughterhouses, and selling it as cooking oil. Of course, street food in China is an essential part of the travel experience, but many recommend aiming for the stalls with long lines to err on the safe side.