As food safety issues draw an increasing public attention China, researchers from the Fudan University in Shanghai said the food safety situation in China is not as bad as most people imagined.
According to official statistics, 2,489 food safety incidents happened during January 1, 2004–December 31, 2012 period. The incidents in North China accounted for about one-third of the total, followed by South China and East China.
Li Shuguang, professor of the School of Public Health of Fudan University, said the distribution is closely connected to the economic situation of different places. Food safety incidents that happened in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangdong, Shandong, Suzhou and Zhejiang accounted for nearly half of the national total. According to Li, one of the main reasons is that food production and catering service enterprises are concentrated in these more developed cities and provinces; another reason is that the local people and media in these cities and provinces are more sensitive to and concerned with food safety issues.
Li said an increasing number of consumers feel food is becoming more and more unsafe in China today when information is spreading fast. Consumers are worried about what to eat. After careful analysis of the relevant data, Li and his team found that only 413 incidents were spread across multiple places, and the rest of the incidents can be categorized as local incidents.
Li and his team selected 20 pieces of news about food safety issues from March 30 to April 1, 2011. Seven of them were made up, five involved additives, and the rest were related to food quality. Once an incident is covered by a media outlet, other media outlets follow up and the “ripple effects” cannot be ignored. “The public feeling that food is becoming increasingly unsafe is just an illusion or a misunderstanding,” Li said.