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People's Daily Online>>China Society

Food scandals slowly spiralling out of control

By Yu Jincui (Global Times)

08:13, April 19, 2012

From sole to body. Graphics: GT

Public anger surged again after media reports revealed that medical capsule products used by several pharmaceutical companies contained industrial gelatin, including high doses of chromium. What's worse is that the industrial gelatin was extracted from discarded leather shoes.

The State Food and Drug Administration halted the sale of 13 kinds of drugs using those laced capsules Sunday, but till now, all the pharmaceutical companies involved have either refused to apologize or have kept silent.

According to a media investigation, the poisoned capsules were mostly made by small manufacturers in Hebei, Shandong, Jiangxi and Zhejiang provinces. The chromium came from leather scraps used as a raw material.

Enterprises will not voluntarily follow business ethics. They are facing pricing pressure and are driven by profit. Many industries are stuck in a price war, driving companies to resort to extreme measures to cut costs.

Some pharmaceutical companies involved in the capsule scandal tried to pass the buck onto manufacturers and dodge liability. As a result, public dissatisfaction accumulated and several websites of the suspected drug companies were apparently hacked Tuesday.

In an interview with CCTV, the deputy mayor of Fucheng county, Hebei Province, where some of the factories producing the industrial gelatin before selling it to drug companies are based, strongly defended the local government.

But ironically, the county has been a big supplier of industrial gelatin and its trade with pharmaceutical companies was exposed eight years ago.

Food and drug security should not be a Gordian knot that China cannot untie. It is discouraging that the food safety issue is seemingly slipping out of control.

We expect real progress in China's battle with food security rather than repeated nationwide campaigns to crack down on food and drug security problems aroused by various scandals.

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