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Chinese Food Standards

November 11, 2011
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Recently I posted comments supporting the campaign for Australian-produced food based on the safety and health standards of imported food from China, Thailand, Iran, Spain, the Philippines, India, Egypt, South Africa and Vietnam.

Some of you thought it reeked of protectionism.

But the Chinese food scandals continue thick and fast. The most recent is “gutter oil”, used for cooking in restaurants. The term refers to recycled cooking oil. It is retrieved from drains – yes, drains – where dumped by restaurants after use in cooking. Apparently it floats to the surface of other waste fluids. Chemicals are added to disguise the smell. These can contain carcinogens and toxic mould. Xinhua, the government’s news agency, called gutter oil “the most nerve-jittery problem of late” in respect of food safety.

Thirty-two people were arrested in September for producing the oil. Ninety tonnes of it were seized in 14 provinces. An estimated two million tonnes of the liquid are consumed annually by unwitting customers. This is said to be equivalent to about one-10th of the total used by restaurants.

Until the Chinese government succeeds in hauling its standards up to those of the West, the precautionary principle would dictate that one not consume foods made in China. Or, when travelling there, not to eat in roadside establishments where noodles and pork may have been slow-cooked in flavoursome oil scooped out of gutters and – yum, yum – leavened with tasty carcinogens.

  1. Bron permalink
    November 11, 2011 4:08 pm

    Thanks for bringing this to attention. I’d never heard of this practice.

  2. November 11, 2011 9:26 pm

    Thanks Bob – From a very articulate poster: Our local growers comply with rigorous public health and safety requirements. Our use of fertilisers and pesticides is well regulated. Our growers carry the costs of this compliance, as do us taxpayers who pay for the regulatory systems, yet imported food is dumped in our market, and it is not tested for health and safety. Many shoppers are too busy to notice, some are too poor to care, for most, they assume that all food sold in Australia meets Australian standards. For a long time, this was true, but it has changed, we are losing, but not everyone is aware of it yet.

    It seems we are in a downhill spiral bought by our spending habits and obsession with lowest prices. What is really quite amazing is that Australian food can still be bought for reasonable prices and generally the quality is very good.

  3. November 11, 2011 11:19 pm

    I recently bit into a biscuit from a Danish-looking branded tin of goodies, only to taste a mouthful of chemical. A closer look at the tin revealed the contents’ Chinese origin.

    It was not a pleasant experience. So many of China’s manufactured products are now to a high standard, it’s amazing that food, of all things, has been allowed to lag behind and embarrass China’s reputation.

    • Bob Carr permalink
      November 12, 2011 6:56 am

      Heard this once from a dietician: there is no such thing as a good biscuit.

  4. November 13, 2011 9:48 pm

    Thanks for the lesson. Food hygiene standards in other countries are certainly different to ours. That does not mean that all food is badly prepared however. Happy to hear that someone may be promoting standards for imported food.

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