Chinese recent food scandals


Meat made of rats, foxes, chemical products, meat cut with water or even out-of-date, these last months Chinese authorities arrested more than 90 000 people and found more than 200 000 tons of fake meat. There were a lot of food scandals this year.

The dead pigs

For example last March, more than 16 000 dead pigs were found in the Huangpu River, which crosses Shanghai and represents 22% of water consumption of the 23 million inhabitants of the city. Information is missing about the virus that killed the pigs. But the case reminds of the mafia business that was in China until 2012, when local mafia was buying sick dead pigs to sell them in local markets as fresh meat.

         huangpu dead pigs

The formalin cabbage

In May 2012, the state-owned Press agency Xinhua reveals that Chinese sellers put the cabbage in formalin in order to preserve them during transport in the summer. This product, which is very cheap, can cause cancer, but avoids that the vegetables are damaged during long transportation. According to local press, this method was very common in the last three years in Shandong, an agricultural province of China. In 2010 some vegetables sellers also had put mushrooms inside bleach to make them white.



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Gutter Oil

In September 2011, Chinese police arrested 32 people, which had produced and sold fake oil, taken in the gutter outside restaurants. This kind of oil could represent 10% of the oil consumed in China, some say. The sanitary inspections were reinforced but the phenomenon is hard to stop because people make a lot of money out of it.

gutter oil

Explosive Watermelon

In May 2011, almost 50 hectares of watermelon exploded in Jiangsu. Experts think there was an abuse of forchlorfenuron, a chemical product that helps cell division, and make the fruits bigger and their color better.

 exploded watermelon

Fake mantou

In April 2011, Chinese television reveals that the mantou (kind of bread) sold in the Shanghai supermarkets have a lot of chemical products inside, and also fake yellow color in order to let people think they were made of corn. Moreover a lot of them were out-of-date and recycled.

fake mantou

Milk with nitrites

Some days before, some fresh milk was poisoned with nitrites, a chemical fertilizer, in Gansu province. 3 kids died and 36 became severely sick. The police investigation finally showed that this act was criminal: the neighbors had poisoned the milk production of the owner for revenge.

 milk with nitrites

Clenbuterol pork

Another fraud in Hunan at the end of March 2011: some clenbuterol, an anabolic, is discovered in the pigs owned by the first Chinese pigs producer, Shanghui. This product is sometimes used by the sportsmen to transform fat into muscles. It is prohibited because it can provoke heart troubles and insomnia. In November, 113 people were arrested, of which 17 government officials. Hundreds of people had already been sick in Shanghai in 2006, then in Guandong in 2009.

 clenbuterol porc

Milk with Melamine

It’s the main food scandal in China: in March 2008 melamine is found in the milk for babies of the Sanlu brand, very popular in China. The toxic chemical component is used in food industry to higher the protein rate. It caused the death of 6 babies, and contaminated 300 000 babies with chronicle diseases. The fraud involved 22 Chinese milk companies. But in order to keep its good reputation before the Olympics, the case was revealed 3 months later. At the beginning 2009, Chinese Justice convicted 21 people, of which 3 people sentenced to death.

melamine milk

Because there was no reform in the sanitary controls, there are still fake milk scandals in China.

Here are some other foods scandals in China.

You can also read this article about strategies to sell high class food in China here.


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