A nationwide online survey recently revealed that food safety has become the No 1 concern for the country's urban residents.
The survey, conducted by Edatapower.com, covered 1,058 people from China's 10 major provinces and municipalities between June 16 and 26.
"After a series of crises in many areas, a survey on people's attitude towards dealing with emergencies was necessary," said Huang Juan, a staff member with the Edatapower, on Wednesday.
According to the survey, after food safety, the public is most concerned about environmental problems, traffic accidents, contagious diseases, SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome), public security, energy shortages, earthquakes, chemical leakages and computer viruses.
During the first half of this year, several cases of food scandals were reported, including Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) and a subsidiary of US-based Heinz using the cancer-causing Sudan I Red dye, Nestle adding excessive iodine to infant formula milk and the Bright Dairy's reprocessing of out-of-date milk.
"The consumer confidence index for all kinds of food safety is below 50 percent," said Huang Hai, a senior official with the Ministry of Commerce, at a press conference last month on food safety.
"About 8 percent of domestic food fails to measure up to the national standards for food, and some 7 percent of vegetable products exceed the standards for pesticide residue," Huang said.
Another recent survey on the public's 10 most worrisome issues by the National Bureau of Statistics showed food safety ranking second on the list.
Facing an uphill battle against unsafe food products, the country is making an effort to enhance legislation on national food safety.
According to Liu Zhaobin, spokesman for the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, experts and related bodies are working on new regulations to improve food safety, which will be issued next year.
The relevant authorities will put into effect management regulations on food production starting on September 1 in a bid to improve food safety.
According to government sources, 370 of the 555 kinds of foods, or 70 percent of the total, pertaining to 28 food categories, are currently covered by the country's food quality system.
(China Daily August 8, 2005)