Chinese inspectors start tasting regular people’s food, not just Emperor’s by mattsteinglass
June 28, 2007, 2:22 pm
Filed under: China

China announced it closed 180 food processing plants over the weekend. Good for them. I find this whole thing enormously encouraging. For one thing, it turns out to be possible to override corporate interests and get the message out when industrially produced comestibles are actually poisoning people. For another thing, the public sentiment rallied by this issue is so overwhelming, and has a such a powerful effect on governments, that no company or country in the world, China included, can do anything less than respond emphatically and quickly. It is an enormous, overwhelming task for China to attempt to institute adequate food safety controls; it’s a vast country and the government is mostly bereft of enforcement power or effective control over business activities. But the key here is to be impatient. Don’t be patient; demand faster action, more action, more public aggression, more transparent action. What are they going to do — say no? Already, institutions across the US have banned Chinese-made toothpaste. Not just the offending brands; they’re going all-out and banning all Chinese-made toothpaste. This is the most effective possible kind of reform pressure on the Chinese government, precisely because it is motivated not by some kind of high-minded moral sentiment, but by pure consumer self-interest. There’s no repressive or propagandistic way out of this: they will either reform their food safety systems, or they will lose their export markets. Can there be any question which they’ll do?


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