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Behind The Story Of China’s Deadly Fruit

In an August 18 New York Times op-ed titled China’s Corrupt Food Chain, global-health governance expert Yanzhong Huang laments the sorry, scary state of food safety in China. Yanzhong starts his piece by recounting an April China Central Television (CCTV) report on the alarmingly lax practices of many Chinese suppliers of preserved fruit.

This may sound familiar to regular readers of the China Compliance Digest. Soon after the CCTV piece first aired, we covered its stomach-turning findings in our April 30 edition:

On April 24, China Central Television (CCTV) aired an exposé on unregistered food workshops in Linyi City (Shandong Province) that supply preserved fruit to factories in Zhejiang and Guangdong provinces.

The CCTV report showed peaches scattered on soiled ground, mixed in with rotten raw materials and rubbish.

The ensuing scandal also snared Lingxin Food Company in Hangzhou City, a supplier of preserved fruit to well-known retailer Laiyifen. Among the substandard conditions noted at Lingxin were the presence of flies and maggots among products, and the use of filthy water and bleaching agents in food processing.

Two other Laiyifen suppliers, Yonghai Food Company and Meiyuan Food Company, were implicated in the scandal as well.

According to the official Laiyifen website, the Shanghai-based food retailer is offering refunds on preserved fruit purchases, and is actively investigating the matter. Laiyifen’s chairperson Yu Ruifen took to her microblog account to announce that products from all three implicated suppliers have been removed from the racks.

As his op-ed draws to a close, Yanzhong broadens his aim, indicting the general moral laxity he perceives at the heart of contemporary Chinese society. “This single-minded pursuit of material interests is now threatening China’s moral baseline,” he writes.

I encourage you to check out the piece.

Sample issues of the China Compliance Digest, including the April 30 edition with the preserved-fruit story, are available for download here. You can also sign up for a two-issue free trial at the CCD website, or receive four free issues by subscribing to FCPA Blog email updates at the box on the top right.

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Ben Kessler is a contributing editor of the FCPA Blog. He serves as managing editor of ethiXbase and editor of the China Compliance Digest.

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1 Comment

  1. Yanzhong Huang piece was well written and I am glad he talked about the moral change in China that has got them where they are right now because arguably no society is immune. It is sad to see that wealth and status buys "more safe" food in China, although we do see similar disparity in the US with the cost of organic versus non. But even our non-organic doesn't sound as unsafe as this.

    Having just finished an accounting ethics class I think I am more interested in how we teach ethics younger and make ethics part of a person's make-up in all aspects of life.


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