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Concerned About Food Safety? You Should Be.

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If you’re new to China you’ve probably thought about the food – and in particular food safety.

All too often over the last few years, shocking headlines have caught the eye of even the casual China observer. From restaurants using gutter oil – cooking oil that has already been designated as waste – to mislabeled 40 year old meat, food scandals in China seem depressingly frequent.

So just how are you going to be able to feed yourself and your family safely?

Five Keys to Safer Food

In matters as important as this, it’s a good idea to look to the experts. The World Health Organization suggests that there are ‘five keys to safe food’:

1) Keep clean
2) Separate raw and cooked
3) Cook thoroughly
4) Keep food at safe temperatures
5) Use safe water and raw materials

That’s all well and good, but how can you be sure that all of those steps are respected and adhered to by the people and shops that supply your food?

Organic Matters

One way to ensure that your food is free from harmful additives might be to buy organic. The problem for many expats in China though is that "organic" doesn’t mean the same thing here as it does back home.

So what does the "organic" label mean in China?

China’s ‘organic’ certification sets a clear benchmark that Chinese farmers and producers are expected to follow. It includes keeping food and produce free from GMO technology, synthetic pesticides, chemical fertilizers, growth regulators and feed additives.

The Chinese "organic" label does have real currency then, even if it is different from what you're used to.

In fact, organic food has a long and rich history in China. And although China’s agricultural sector has suffered great upheaval over the last century in part due to the need to feed one fifth of the world’s population on one tenth of its arable land – this history is now being eagerly embraced by a new generation of committed, artisanal farmers and producers.

But Microorganisms Matter More

It’s not only organic that matters, though. And in some respects, the use of chemical fertilizers is not the first thing we should be concerned about when it comes to food safety.

Each day, across both the developing and developed world, thousands of people die from preventable foodborne disease, placing great strain on healthcare systems, damaging national economies and hampering international trade.

Food can be contaminated by tiny microorganisms at any point before consumption – be that on the farm, in transit, or on store shelves.

Microorganisms are all around us: on our skin, in our food, in our environment. Some are good –think probiotic yogurt, penicillin – some are bad. And some are outright dangerous. When it comes to food, dangerous microorganisms often can’t be seen; whereas bread turns visibly moldy, salmonella, to take one example, has no visible effects. That makes things harder.

All of this makes it all the more important that you can totally trust the source and suppliers of the foodstuffs you consume.

The Future is Bright

Things are getting better in China. The government is now really serious about stamping out food scandals and, under proposed revisions to China’s Food Safety Laws implemented in the middle of 2014, punishing severely those who break its rules.

Arguably, there’s never been a better time – and a better time to eat – for expats in China than right here, right now.

This article was contributed by FIELDS, your online grocery store in China. FIELDS works closely with its suppliers and farmers, nurturing best practice and ethical production. FIELDS only works with companies who are certified to the very highest standards and have all the correct paperwork under Chinese law, which many companies don’t have.

FIELDS’ temperature-controlled delivery chain means that food arrives at your door exactly the way it should; fresh really does mean fresh and frozen actually arrives frozen, whatever the weather.

As FIELDS’ founder says, FIELDS only sells “food that we’re proud to serve our own families”.

www.fieldschina.com

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Keywords: organic food in China food safety in China

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6 Comments ( Add your comment )

1
comment|62779|1574897
viktorina0

Yep, food in China may be dangerous. Especially street food.

Jul 10, 2015 15:43
2
comment|62877|90036
optical5

Nice advertorial.

Jul 12, 2015 21:11
3
comment|62906|1592426
q8chine

poor peopl

Jul 13, 2015 11:15
4
comment|63333|301016
Guest2709144

One problem I notice is a lack of education about food safety. I always have to stop, or rather prevent the store clerk from setting raw meet in the same bag as my vegetables. It is just an absence of education.

Jul 23, 2015 07:59
5
comment|63356|1593701
billblis

Food handlers must learn that nose-picking is a revolting habit.

Jul 23, 2015 19:40
6
comment|70037|43588
sunsetlover

Not meant as a critique on Fields (which I have no knowledge on), but this article is overly optimistic. For one, "the future is bright"? When it comes to food safety in China, I don't think so. We can ask any Chinese we trust, who secretly dreams of moving to a Western country (there are tens of millions of them). Btw, about "organic" in China, don't bother. If they can fake Chinese brand cigarettes here that sell for 10 rmb a pack (so they can sell them for 5 rmb), rest assured they can "fake" organic food, which sells at 2-4 times over (think "profit margin")

Mar 30, 2016 10:45

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