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Food safety in China
  1. Yongning Wu,
  2. Yan Chen
  1. Key Laboratory of Food Safety Risk Assessment, Ministry of Health; and China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, Beijing, China
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yongning Wu, Key Laboratory of Food Safety Risk Assessment, Ministry of Health and China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, 7 Panjiayuan Nanli, Chaoyang District, Beijing 100021, China; wuyncdc{at} or china_cdc{at}

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Food safety is one of the most important public health issues worldwide. It has also become one of the most challenging social issues in China that needs to be addressed. Domestic issues concerning food safety occur more frequently in China than in other countries; there are loopholes in all the aspects of the food chain—from the farm to the table; public concerns over food safety are growing. A severe scandal related to food safety was recently exposed with regards to the production and extensive use of banned cooking oil which shows that China faces a grave situation in ensuring food safety. In contrast with the different major food safety issues in developed countries, China is dealing with recurrent instances of foodborne diseases, not due to micro-organisms or environmental pollutants, but due to the illegal use of pesticides and veterinary drugs as well as adulterated materials.1

Historically, there have been two catastrophic food safety incidents in the past three decades, each of which has resulted in about 300 000 cases of foodborne disease. The first outbreak that occurred 30 years ago in Shanghai was caused by the raw consumption of clams contaminated with the hepatitis A virus; it affected 292 301 people.2 The second was a nationwide event that occurred in 2008; it involved melamine-tainted milk and powdered infant formula, which caused urinary tract stones in more than 290 000 children.3

The most important issue of food safety globally is foodborne diseases caused by micro-organisms. However, the melamine incident shifted the focus of the Chinese government's attention to …

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  • Contributors YC first made the brief manuscript for the editorial, and YW revised and polished it for submission.

  • Funding This work was supported by the Ministry of Science and Technology, Basic Research Program (973) grant number 2012CB720804.

  • Competing interests None.

  • Provenance and peer review Commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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