China media: Fake food scandals

File photo: Meat at a market in China
Image caption Media in China say corrupt officials who allowed the meat scandals to occur should also be penalised

Media voice despair over corruption and threats to public health in the wake of fake and toxic food scandals, mass protests against polluting plants, and faulty dictionaries.

Global Times says authorities are still investigating the arrests of over 900 people, including market traders and restaurant staff, in a fake mutton scam.

The media earlier revealed a criminal ring that had been selling rat, fox and mink meat bought from farms in Shandong as mutton for hot-pot restaurants in Shanghai and neighbouring Wuxi since 2009.

However, a suspect in Wuxi assured China Central Television that while foxes and mink had been used in the production of fake meat, no rats had been used.

Elsewhere, farmers in Fujian province who were contracted to destroy diseased pigs have been detained for allegedly selling the carcasses collected from farms and roadsides to restaurants in neighbouring provinces since last August, Global Times reports.

Three butchers hired from Henan province remain at large and the case is still under investigation.

Besides the pork and mutton scandals, the Public Security Ministry says there have been at least another 10 meat scandals recently involving pigs and chickens, Southern Metropolis Daily notes with alarm.

"The case of a large number of dead pigs on the Huangpu River a while ago has to some extent confirmed the chaotic state of dead livestock and poultry processing. If this state of affairs does not change, the consequences of similar cases will be unimaginable," the newspaper says.

Hong Kong's Oriental Daily News says the judicial authorities' harsher penalties for selling toxic food, including the death sentence for anyone selling tainted food that causes fatalities, are "better late than never". It stresses that corrupt officials behind profiteers must also be targeted.

On Saturday, China Central Television exposed how farmers in Shandong's Weifang are using Aldicarb, a highly toxic pesticide, to grow ginger.

The Beijing News blasts the Weifang authorities for "incompetence" in failing to supervise food safety, and demands more powers for the media to act as a consumer watchdog.

Pollution protests

While over 1,000 people protested in Kunming against a controversial China National Petroleum Corp (CNPC) chemical plant on Sunday, angry protesters in Chengdu took to the internet to vent anger after police stopped them from rallying against another CNPC petrochemical plant on Sunday, Hong Kong's South China Morning Post reports.

A bilingual Global Times editorial says authorities and state-run firms have often failed to address public fears over pollution.

"Local governments should stand with the masses right from the outset of feasibility studies for heavy chemical projects," it says.

Beijing Times says authorities must also act quickly to introduce acceptable quality standards for bottled drinking water to allay public fears about contamination from deteriorating air and water quality as well as polluting industries.

Last week, The Beijing News revealed that only 20 tests were required for bottled water, while tap water underwent 106 water quality tests.

Beijing Times welcomes new moves to prosecute celebrities who advertise unsafe food products but says research institutes, doctors and consumers should also be held accountable for endorsing unsafe food and drugs.

The Beijing News accuses local officials in Hubei province of embezzling funds after China Central Television exposed authorities distributing "fake" dictionaries riddled with mistakes to over 3 million pupils in rural primary and secondary schools as part of a government subsidised scheme.

"These fake dictionaries that have passed through the dirty hands of corruption have not only polluted the eyes of children but also polluted their hearts. The nation is waiting to see whether these flies can be swatted," says a Southern Metropolis Daily commentary.

In People's Daily Overseas Edition, Hua Liming, a former Chinese ambassador to Iran, says almost simultaneous visits by Palestinian and Israeli leaders shows the two countries' "expectations and trust" in China.

Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas arrived in Beijing on Sunday for a three-day visit, while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will arrive in Shanghai on Monday for two days and then visit Beijing until Friday.

However, Mr Hua and many other Chinese experts stress that the focus of the visits is on bilateral trade and investment rather than Beijing brokering a peace deal.

Finally in The Beijing News a film critic, known as Mianbao Ah [Bread], notes how the public are blasting extra footage featured in the Chinese version of Hollywood film Iron Man 3 for being "half-cooked rice", or half-baked, since it premiered last week in China.

Sharp-eyed internet users have been mocking clips in the film of a Chinese doctor wearing a face mask but no surgical gloves when operating on Iron Man, as well as not-too-subtle product placements for a domestic milk drink.

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