Lessons learned from the past, if not forgotten, can serve as a
guide for the future. But this motto does not seem to work with the
food safety supervision and management department, which has failed
repeatedly to block some contaminated or even poisonous food from
being put on supermarket shelves.
The salted duck eggs that have been found to contain a poisonous
red dye for industrial use in Beijing's supermarkets this week is
the second case of this dye being put into food in China. And it is
one of a string of similar cases involving food that's been
artificially contaminated in recent years.
A case of this type will never serve as a guide for the future
unless its root cause is found and those responsible for the entire
process from the making to the selling are punished
Those raising ducks in Beijing's neighbouring Hebei Province add
the poisonous red dye to the feed in order to make the yolks of
their duck eggs look nice.
The fact that they never eat the eggs themselves proves they
know what they are doing.
These eggs are bought by local plants that process them into
salted ones before selling them to supermarkets or restaurants in
the province and its neighbouring cities. It is still unknown
whether these plants test the eggs before buying them, but the eggs
were sold to supermarkets in Beijing with food testing reports
attesting to their safety and quality.
Beijing's food safety supervision and management department is
supposed to be responsible for blocking unsafe food from entering
markets in the capital. The fact that the poisonous duck eggs were
found in Beijing's supermarkets shows the negligence of the
It is strange that the discovery of the same poisonous eggs in
the neighbouring city of Tianjin last year did not alert the
relevant departments and the supermarkets in Beijing.
The smooth travel of the poisonous duck eggs through various
checkpoints to the dining tables of Beijingers indicates that the
controls are too loose and there are too many loopholes in food
safety supervision and management.
The immediate action taken by the capital and Hebei Province to
seal all packages of the problematic eggs is far from enough to
ease public panic.
What is worse is that frequent similar occurrences will shake
public confidence in the food safety supervision and management
We hope that sealing and destroying all of the problematic duck
eggs will not be the end of the story. And we can only expect this
case to serve as a deterrent to those rule violators and as a
warning to those who neglect their duties as long as the producers,
providers, testers and departments involved are given due
(China Daily November 15, 2006)