China has shut down 180 food factories after inspectors found industrial chemicals being used in products from candy to seafood. Worldwide concerns over China’s food safety problems have increased after high levels of toxins and industrial chemicals were found in exported products.
Chinese authorities are pushing for more strict controls and have increased the publicity of their crackdowns to keep the problem in check.
Formaldehyde, illegal dyes, and industrial wax were found being used to make candy, pickles, crackers and seafood, it said, citing Han Yi, an official with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which is responsible for food safety.
“These are not isolated cases,” Han, director of the administration’s quality control and inspection department, was quoted as saying.
Han’s admission was significant because the administration has said in the past that safety violations were the work of a few rogue operators, a claim which is likely part of a strategy to protect China’s billions of dollars (euros) of food exports.
More on the factory shutdowns in China after the jump.
Han said most of the offending manufacturers were small, unlicensed food plants with fewer than 10 employees, and all had been shut down. China Daily said 75 percent of China’s estimated 1 million food processing plants are small and privately owned.
According to Han, the ongoing inspections are focusing on commonly consumed food such as meat, milk, beverages, soy sauce and cooking oil. Rural areas and the suburbs — where standards are likely less strict — are still considered key areas for inspectors, he said.