Opinion / From the Press

Supervision needed for food safety

(China Daily) Updated: 2014-09-17 07:58

The "gutter oil" scandal has shaken public trust in Taiwan food products. Weak government supervision and over-reliance on the food industry's self-regulations are responsible for the latest food safety scandal. Therefore, the food industry has to be put under modern management and strictly monitored, says an article in Beijing Youth Daily. Excerpts:

The Taiwan "gutter oil" scandal reportedly involves more than 971 local food manufacturers and 136 types of products. Worse, Chang Guann Co, a well-known cooking oil supplier in Taiwan, purchased the recycled oil to produce 782 tons of lard, 645 tons of which were sold to food companies and restaurants, including some well-known ones.

Food safety supervision has been a major concern across the world for almost a century. The situation on the Chinese mainland today is similar to that in Europe in the 1930s and 1940s, the United States and Japan in the 1950s and 1960s, and Taiwan in the 1980s.

Seeing the temporary improvement in food safety standards in these developed countries and regions, many free-market liberals concluded that substandard and fake goods are usually the by-products of an immature market and weak legislation is primarily to blame for the immature market; undue government intervention in the market stalls the legislation process, and the "invisible hand" of the market compels all participants to be honest and self-disciplined in competition.

But the mounting food scandals in Europe, the US and East Asia in recent years contradict this theory. Excessive obsession with self-regulation is at odds with not only the greedy nature of capitalism, but also the necessity and significance of government monitoring of market players.

Hence, the most important lesson one can learn from the "gutter oil" scandal is that, aside from market-oriented self-regulation and public supervision, government monitoring of food products manufacturers is mandatory to ensure food safety.

Most Viewed Today's Top News