Back in February, a colleague of mine wrote a blog post regarding the European horsemeat scandal in which horsemeat was advertised as beef in supermarkets. He described the implications that this might have concerning the global supply chain. One quote of his that proved to be shockingly accurate was, “…that the recent events involving horsemeat are only the tip of the iceberg.” Yet another food safety scare has arisen in China, where people are getting served rat meat for dinner instead of the requested mutton meat. China has experienced other food scandals in recent years, mostly involving toxins detected in dairy products. These food scandals have resulted in increased international trade, especially with dairy products, and the much needed increase in food-safety regulation in China.
Social media has played a large role in the rat meat controversy, because people are declaring their outrage via social media outlets. It is no surprise that the government-controlled media would like to keep the scandals under wraps, but due to social media, the government has no other option except to act. In fact, the government has plans to create a new regulatory agency, the General Food and Drug Administration, in addition to the already existing State Food and Drug Administration, to ensure the cessation of any further scandals. There is also a new development plan to address flaws in the agricultural supply chain.
The dairy scandals are also rather prevalent in China’s new regulatory plans, because Chinese parents are smuggling in foreign-made baby formula so as to avoid potentially feeding their children toxins. A new law was put into effect that limited the amount of powdered milk that could leave Hong Kong, giving international baby product companies a boost in the Chinese market. Baby formula sales grew 29 percent last year, which happens to be more than four times the size of the U.S. market.
China’s government needs to act quickly in order to enact regulatory agency regulations so as to avoid losing any more business to foreign dairy providers. The dairy toxin scandal in 2008 actually resulted in six infant deaths, so the new regulations will be saving both lives and local businesses.