More than 23,000 tainted or substandard foods have been identified within the Chinese food manufacturing system. A six-month investigation by China's food-quality authority found products such as meat, baby milk powder, rice, flour, biscuits, seafood, soy sauce and sweets had been contaminated by such things as industrial oils, acid, chemicals and other hazardous ingredients, reports Agence France Presse.
"These are not isolated cases," Han Yi, with the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, told the China Daily. Between December and May, the effort has closed down about 180 food manufacturers.
Most of the contaminated foods were found in small, unlicensed food-processing plants that employed less than 10 workers, Han Yi reported. So far, the investigation has focused on rural areas. Chinese officials say they will now move on to cities. It is worth noting that about 75 percent of the country's 1 million food-processing plants are small operations.
Beijing writer Zhou Qing, who authored a book about China's food industry, told AFP that the country's food-safety woes are due to small-scale production and rampant corruption.
"It is hard to control and prevent because there are many small food processing workshops with chaotic operations," he said. "Tainted food is a very serious problem in China. Different levels of government authorities are used to covering up and telling lies when food safety problems arise. Therefore, counterfeit food is everywhere in China."
China is currently working to revise its food-safety protocols after international outcry following the U.S. pet-food contamination and other debacles.