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2014年7月26日 (土)

中国期限切れ肉 外資企業にも及んだ背信行為

The Yomiuri Shimbun
Expired meat scandal in China a betrayal of Japan’s safety efforts
中国期限切れ肉 外資企業にも及んだ背信行為

Yet again, a problem that greatly damages the trustworthiness of Chinese-made food products has been exposed. This is a matter of enormous concern.

Shanghai Husi Food Co., a Shanghai-based subsidiary of a major U.S. food processing company, was revealed to have shipped meat products that had passed their expiration dates.

As a result, McDonald’s Co. (Japan) and leading convenience store chain FamilyMart Co., both of which had imported chicken meat from Husi Food, have been forced to suspend sales of some of their products.

Chinese police authorities have concluded that the selling of meat past its sell-by date was the result of illegal production led by Husi Food’s management. They detained five people, including the factory’s quality manager. The full scope of the situation must be elucidated promptly.

According to the Chinese TV reports that revealed the meat shipping irregularities, the Husi Food factory repackaged meat products that had been returned unsold by turning them into ground meat. The chicken meat, which investigators said required frozen storage, was handled in a warehouse at room temperature.

Regarding the mixing of out-of-date meat into ordinary ground meat, one factory employee was quoted as making the remarkable assertion, “People won’t die from consuming expired foods.” That sentiment is emblematic of the many words and deeds pointing to the total moral failure at food-processing facilities, where the safety of consumers should have been the absolute top priority.

In a 2008 incident in China, baby formula was tainted with a toxic chemical, affecting the health of about 300,000 babies and toddlers. There has been a seemingly uninterrupted stream of food-related problems in China, including the revelation last year of the distribution of rice contaminated with cadmium.

The tendency to disregard consumers’ health and put profits ahead of all else is likely behind this succession of problems.

Dependence on China foods

The Chinese public is extremely dissatisfied with this state of affairs, in which the need for safe food receives little scrutiny. The leadership of the Chinese Communist Party administration, eager to ensure the stability of society, may have found it necessary to hurriedly launch law enforcement investigations into the latest food scandal, aiming to demonstrate the government’s intent to clamp down rigorously on such wrongdoing.

What cannot be ignored in the Husi Food case is that the illegal production occurred at the factory of a foreign-capitalized company—one generally believed to operate in a relatively safe manner compared to Chinese-run firms.

A deliberate poisoning incident in 2008, in which an employee at a Chinese food firm laced frozen gyoza dumplings with pesticide, spurred food processing companies affiliated with Japanese food firms and trading houses to redouble their efforts to enforce strong quality control and ensure the maintenance of a high standard of food safety. In recent years, food imports to Japan from China have been steadily growing.

This incident at Husi Food is an unmistakable betrayal of the work of many on the Japanese side and throws cold water on their food quality crusade.

The Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry has ordered the suspension of food imports from Shanghai Husi Food. Over the past year, Japan’s chicken meat imports from the company totaled 6,000 tons. Thorough probes must be conducted to determine whether the firm had previously shipped expired meat, to help alleviate customers’ anxiety.

The continued existence of Japan’s food industries relies on low-priced ingredients produced in China.

Companies importing Chinese goods must strengthen their inspection and supervision systems, working from the assumption that people should be deemed dishonest by nature when it comes to food processing in China. These companies may have to take such measures as arranging regular factory visits by officials from Japan for safety checks and installing security cameras in factories.

(From The Yomiuri Shimbun, July 25, 2014)


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