Close

Support Global Voices

To stay independent, free, and sustainable, our community needs the help of friends and readers like you.

Donate now »

See all those languages up there? We translate Global Voices stories to make the world's citizen media available to everyone.

Learn more about Lingua Translation  »

China: Poisoned pets, our food regulations

With American FDA officials on the way to China to get to the bottom of the inclusion of the toxic chemical melamime in pet food exported to the United States, now known to have been responsible for at least several thousand cat and dog deaths, what do Chinese netizens have to say?

Pheonix TV anchor Rose Luqiu has a fascinating post on the issue, ‘Who's supervising China's food safety?‘ in which she writes:

中国的官方数字显示,05年有9021人食物中毒,235人死亡,在死亡的人当中,一半以上是因为食物遭到了化学物质的污染。但是世界卫生组织的数字则要高的多,他们认为,中国农村的很多案例很难确诊,造成官方数字显得比较低。他们认为,中国每年受食品卫生影响的人有三亿人。他们估计,中国每年因为食物中毒而产生的医疗费用以及生产损失在47亿到140亿之间。

Official Chinese statistics show that in 2005 there were 9,021 people struck with food poisoning, 235 of which died. Of those who died, over half the deaths were due to consumption of food contaminated with chemical matter. But the World Health Organization's numbers are much higher. They say it's hard to make an accurate diagnosis in many cases from rural China, that official numbers seem very low. They also say that the number of people affected by food hygiene each year amounts to three hundred million cases. They estimate that the the medical costs and damages created due to food poisoning in China each year to be somewhere between 4.7 and 14 billion yuan.

Comments from her readers:

2007-04-11 05:38:55

猪养肥了再杀是很多管理部门对待惩罚的态度.对于一个发展刚刚起步的国家来说,也许这种做法有其”合理”之处.不过对于食品类的惩罚态度应该更严厉一些,毕竟这关系到人民的生命安全.

‘Wait until the pig gets fat and then kill it': this is the attitude with which many administrative departments treat penalties. For a country having just begun developing, maybe these sorts of practices are reasonable. But penalties on food products should be a little more severe; after all, this concerns people's life safety.

2007-04-11 07:35:26

出现问题通常都是外边先知道了,然后传到里面,大家产生恐慌心理.我们的监管部门才开始检验,引起讨论.绕个大圈子,代价是老百姓的利益.不过那些商家因为利润使出种种手段还真是黑.似乎监管的部门只顾的发各种准入牌照.出事了给大家出些安民声明.

When problems occur, it's usually the case that people outside China know first, and then the news makes its way in, leaving a lot of people panicking. Our supervision departments have only started inspections now, giving rise to debate. When all's said and done, it's still the people who pay the price. But then, the methods those merchants resort to just for profits are really quite evil. It seems like the supervision departments only concern themselves with handing out admission licences. When these accidents happen, they should give everyone a bit of reassurance.

2007-04-11 07:47:28

我相信在美国发生问题的宠物食品有可能是中国生产的,因为中国人现在的赚钱手段已经达到了登峰造极的程度。
食品安全问题不知道会不会引起相关部门的重视,因为老百姓再怎样重视他们不可能从食品安全的源头抓起,也不可能大家都去种粮食、喂猪以保证食品安全。

I believe that the pet foods creating problem in America could possibly have been made in China, because the lengths Chinese people will go just for a buck have already reached great heights.
I wonder if the food safety problem will attract the attention of the appropriate departments, because no matter how much attention the people pay to food safety, they still can't get safe food at its sources, nor can everyone go plant their own crops or raise their own pigs to ensure food safety.

2007-04-11 08:07:03

闾丘谈的食品以及药品安全问题,是关乎到人民生命安全的大事。政府关心民生问题,就应该从这两个问题上着手。政府部门之间少点扯皮,多些监管。对不法商家,要让他倾家荡产,永世不得再生产。对食品、药品安全,一定要提高违法成本,才能杀一敬佰。

The questions of food and medicine safety that Rose mentions is a major incident relating to people's life safety. If the government is concerned about people's well-being, they should start from these two problems. Government departments should squabble a little less over trifles. They should put these lawbreaking operations out of business, make them unable to ever engage in production again. For illegal foods and medicines, they must raise the cost of breaking the law, make an example to warn others.

2007-04-11 08:16:57

小时侯,常听某领导说:为”人民”服务,随着年龄的增长,越来越困惑,我们是”人民”的一员吗?经济越发展,政治体制改革越迫切,不一定马上搞选举,马上搞多党制,现在政府机构的改革有很大的提升空间.应当借鉴市场经济发达的国家学习.

When I was young, I often heard ‘service for “the people”,’ and as I got older, the more confused I became. Aren't we members of “the people”? As the economy keeps expanding, the more pressing reform to the political system becomes. Without saying we must immediately hold elections or have a multi-party system, there's still a lot of space for government institutions in which to reform. We ought to be drawing lessons from economically developed nations.

2007-04-11 08:17:17

有道理.问题的症结是法律\法规已经逐渐完善,可是并没有切实落实执行,有法可依,治发必严成为空话,加上监管部门太多,灰色地带也宽,就给了不良商家可乘之机.

Makes sense. The crux of the problem is that laws and regulations are already complete, but they have yet to be effectively or practically implemented. ‘There must be laws and the rule of law must be strictly enforced’ has already become empty talk, in addition there are too many supervisory departments. The gray area is too wide, giving the bad business the opportunity they need.

2007-04-11 08:47:41

说的好,ZF作为的太不到位,或者说不作为

Well said. The government's conduct just doesn't cut it, or you could say they're just not doing anything.

2007-04-11 09:03:12

政府严重不作为

The government's seriousness is lacking.

2007-04-11 09:29:14

政府没有责任感,不用为自己的失职对人民负责,人民没有监督的权力.我觉得这是很多问题最大的核心所在.

The government has no sense of responsibility, and they don't need to be blaming the people for their own neglect of duty. The people don't have supervisory authority. I think this is the core of many problems.

2007-04-11 10:19:06

就是啊,食品安全问题关系到每个人的健康
我记得我们学校就出现过学生吃了学校食堂的饭后中毒的情况
后来有关部门就把那家食堂给查封了
其实一件事你就让一个部门去管
管的部门多了最后反而没人管了
出现问题了部门之间也相互推卸责任

Exactly, problems of food safety concern everybody's health.
I remember once at our school cafeteria when students got food poisoning after eating there.
Later the related department shut that cafeteria down.
Whenever there's a problem, you just put one department on it.
If there are too many departments taking care of it, nobody ends up taking care of it.
When something goes wrong, the related departments keep shifting responsibility back and forth between them.

2007-04-11 10:50:14

中国报道了这件事情吗?
在抓肯德基的兼职人员工资问题呢!

Did anyone in China report on this?
No, they're all stuck on the KFC's part-time wages story!

2007-04-11 11:11:56

每个中国人都知道自己每天吃的食品没有安全保证,又不能不吃!怎么办?于是就安慰自己,总比饿死好!

All Chinese know that the food they eat every day has no safety guarantee, but we can't not eat! What are supposed to do? You can only just console yourself, it's a lot better than starving to death!

2007-04-11 15:08:09

市场作用被认为是最好的武器,可谁来引导市场?舆论媒体还是政府,大家都说油炸食品有害健康,世界有多少国家消除油炸食品?因为市场需求在。
媒体的政治性不容小视,谁来维护本国利益。美国指责中国这不好那不好,但他们真的平等对待我们了吗??

The market is considered the best weapon, but who leads the market? Both the watchdog media and the government, they all say deep-fried foods are harmful to one's health, but how many countries on earth have eliminated deep-fried foods? Because market demand exists.
The politicization of the media is not something that can be overlooked. Who upholds this country's interests? America blames China for this or that, but are they really treating us fairly?

2007-04-11 15:12:53

哎在肿瘤医院上班.我的老家现在是化工区.那里的食道肿瘤发病率到了令人可怕的地步.很多人一家几个都是病人.没钱看回家等死.我们医院的人认为再过10年中国人每100人中将会有6个肿瘤患者.这是我们的还认为比较保守的看法.

I work in a tumor hospital. The place where I grew up is a now a chemical plant. The rate of cancer of the esophagus there is terrifying. My families have several victims. Those that don't have the money just have to wait to die. Our hospital estimates that ten years from now, out of a hundred Chinese, six of them will develop a tumor, and this is what we feel is a conservative estimate.

2007-04-11 16:03:05

这能都怪不良厂家吗?客户要求便宜便宜再便宜,价格到一定程度厂家就会想办法降低成本,以次充好等等手段来保持利润.记得有看过一稿,写英国送囚犯到澳洲, 刚开始以上船人数算钱给船主,但囚犯死亡率非常高,监督拉等等方法都不能制止,后来以上岸人数算钱,船主千方百计让囚犯活下去,死亡率就一下降低了.主要是在该出如什么有效的制度,而不是靠人的良心或其它什么的来阻止.

Can this all be blamed on bad manufacturers? Clients demand cheaper, cheaper, and cheaper still, until the price is so low the manufacturers will think of ways to lower costs, shoddy quality and other ways to maintain profits. I remember seeing one report about England sending its convicts to Australia. At the beginning they paid the captain for the numbers of people on board, but the convict death rate was quite high, supervision and other methods weren't helping. Later, they began paying by the numbers of people walking onto shore, the captain was able to think of a million different ways to keep the convicts alive, and the death rate plummeted. The main point is that an effective system needs to be come up with, not relying on something like people's conscience to prevent [problems].

2007-04-11 17:00:14

说得有道理,管理部门太多导致最后的结果是谁都不管!

Makes a lot of sense. Too many administrations result in nobody administrating anything!

2007-04-12 00:53:22

中国不是一个法制国家,不但宪法,连食品法都是,
中国人命便宜,毒死人追穷不了监管部门的责任,这回毒死美国狗狗责任大了吧,这可不同毒死中国人,这才是大事情。

China is not a country under rule of law: not just the Constitution, but food laws too.
Chinese lives are cheap; when people die from [food] poisoning, there's no holding supervisory departments financially accountable. This poisoning of American doggies is a huge liability, though. Different than if it were Chinese lives lost to food poisoning, this is actually a big deal.

Comments mostly trickle off by the 15th, but then this was left on April 27:

在中国,只要不死人,就没人管,说到底是钱在作怪,煤矿安全问题频频发生,食品安全问题频频发生,有什么用,因为有大批腐败官员是他们的保护神.

In China, just as long as nobody dies, nobody pays any attention. To say money is to blame for the recurring coal mine and food safety problems is useless because there's such a large group of corrupt officials looking out for [those responsible].

1 comment

  • paris

    well,as a chinese,
    i have to admit that our gov do try their best in
    the food supervising.
    but i don’t think there is any link between poisoned food and China.
    nobody do has the evidence to prove that.

Join the conversation

Authors, please log in »

Guidelines

  • All comments are reviewed by a moderator. Do not submit your comment more than once or it may be identified as spam.
  • Please treat others with respect. Comments containing hate speech, obscenity, and personal attacks will not be approved.