Authorities investigated 76,500 instances of adulterated food last year, according to Ma Yong, a senior official with the National Food Industry Association. In the year that saw fatally tainted infant formula, that was probably only the tip of the iceberg.
A comparative figure for 2006 was 68,000 cases. Given the international and domestic attention focused on food safety over the past two years, and official effort put into trying to make sure the food supply chain is improved, including a new food safety law that comes into effect in June, it is a surprise the increase wasn’t greater.
In another prop for consumer rights, Yang Hongcan, secretary-general of the state-funded China Consumers’ Association, says his organization is likely to be allowed to represent consumers in court. At present it can only intervene on behalf of individuals when a complaint is outside the courts. Had it had the proposed new powers last year, it would have been able to represent the families of those children who had ingested melamine-tainted milk.