China, which has had a rocky ride in recent years in terms of food safety scandals, has come under the spotlight again. A new report has revealed that half a million food safety illegalities were discovered in the first three quarters of 2016 alone.
Published by the National People's Congress, the report claims that the food safety regulatory body conducted more than 15 million inspections during those nine months and detected more than 500,000 serious lapses in food security.
Offences identified include false advertising, the use of counterfeit products and ingredients and the sale of contaminated food products.
One case in the northeastern province of Jilin involved the use of industrial gelatine in food, and there were several incidences of counterfeit and low quality salt being used in southwestern Guizhou province.
Bi Jingquan, the head of the China Food and Drug Administration, said that while decades of significant progress has been made, there are still "deep-seated" problems to deal with.
China's food sector has been rocked by such major food scandals in recent years that global companies such as KFC, Pizza Hut, and McDonald's were forced to overhaul their businesses.
Severe breaches included rice contaminated with heavy metals, the use of recycled "gutter oil" in restaurants and the sale of baby formula containing lethal amounts of the industrial chemical melamine in 2008.
Australian Institute of Food Safety Executive Director, Stuart Hilditch remarked, “It’s extremely important that food businesses understand the potentially very serious consequences of improper and illegal practices. Education and proper training are essential to reducing numbers of food safety violations.”