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New alliance will bolster safety of food

By Liu Jie  (China Daily)

10:19, June 26, 2012

A food trading exposition in Shanghai. Sales of China's food industry amounted to 78 trillion yuan ($12.36 trillion) in 2011 from 4.73 billion in 1978, with average annual growth at 31.6 percent. Sheng (China Daily/Jingwei)

Ecolab unites groups to check on standards of what we eat

From extra lean meat powder to swill-cooked dirty oil; from industrial gelatin used as food coagulant to dairy products containing aflatoxin - a substance that can cause severe liver damage - the Chinese are scared and asking what food they can eat safely and healthily.

"The problems can be solved only by the joint effort of various parties, including the government, businesses, industry associations and experts as well as the public," said Sam Hsu, senior vice-president of Ecolab Inc and general manager of Ecolab Greater China.

"That's the reason our company cooperated with some partners to set up the Seven-star Convention Alliance, a voluntary organization aiming to promote knowledge of food safety, increase corporate self-discipline, share experiences within the industry and reward companies with long-term good performances," he said.

Ecolab joined hands with China Business News Group, scientific institutions such as the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology and a group of companies including China Huiyuan Juice Group Ltd and Shanghai Xiao Nan Guo, a famous Chinese restaurant chain, to set up the alliance.

Seven stars refers to seven principles that will guarantee food safety. They are high sensitivity toward public health, well-organized internal management mechanisms, good and reliable raw material supplies, strict production supervision, staff self-discipline, control on upstream and downstream companies, as well as corporate credibility and responsibility.

Sales of China's food industry amounted to 78 trillion yuan ($12.36 trillion) in 2011 from 4.73 billion yuan in 1978, with average annual growth at 31.6 percent, according to the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology.

Despite this robust growth, challenges have arisen - with food safety and health at the top.

Hu Xiaosong, vice-president of CIFST, attributed the increasingly frequent scandals to strengthened government supervision on food safety, consumers' ever-increasing awareness and knowledge of food issues and a more transparent information environment.

According to Ecolab's Hsu, food scandals in China are caused by four things - below-standard products, poor knowledge of products, poor corporate management of food quality and deliberate cheating with an eye on higher profits.

"Operators should be socially responsible. They must have enough professional knowledge and management skills to operate their business and, most importantly, maintain their integrity," said Hsu.

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