Just days after a string of headline-grabbing food safety scandals, China’s food safety authority is expanding the list of forbidden or abusable additives and chemicals. Now 151 materials, many of which are used for economic adulteration, are blacklisted: 47 are inedible materials, 22 are food additives that are “easily abused” and 82 are substances forbidden in feed and drinking water for animals, according to official state media Xinhua.
A State Council committee on food safety has been adding chemicals and other substances to the list for the past several years as more and more tainted food scandals have garnered public scrutiny in China. In the past few weeks alone, hundreds have been seriously sickened by clenbuteral-tainted pork, over a dozen noodle makers were ordered to stop production because they were using ink, industrial dyes and paraffin wax as ingredients, and 16 tons of pork was pulled from the marketplace for containing sodium borate, a chemical that seemingly transforms cheap pork into darker, higher-value “beef.”
Last month, Chinese officials arrested 12 people for involvement in a 40-ton bean sprout debacle. In northeast China, farmers were using sodium nitrite (a known carcinogen), urea, antibiotics, and a plant hormone called 6-benzaledenine to make the sprouts grow faster and look shinier, according to international wire reports.
China is “waging a prolonged and stringent fight against the illegal use of additives in food,” according to Xinhua. Vice Premier Li Keqiang said this week he promised “a firm attitude, iron hand measures and more efforts” in dealing with food safety issues.
“Those who were found to produce illegal additives should be investigated immediately and punished severely,” Li added. “As to those companies who intended to use illegal food additives, their businesses should be forced to close and the people in charge should be forbidden to be involved in the food industry.”