What's in a burger?
Updated: 2012-02-08 14:24
After the US fast-food giant McDonald's said it was discontinuing the use of the "pink slime", made from beef trimmings treated with ammonium hydroxide, used in its burgers, its China division said the ingredients used for its burgers in China are different from those in the United States. It said its burgers here are made of 100 percent beef and its production process meets China's national standards.
But this has failed to convince many Chinese consumers, who say that since food safety standards and regulations in the US are generally higher and more developed than those in China, how can McDonald's use higher standard ingredients in China than it does in the US.
If McDonald's really wants to reassure Chinese consumers, it should provide evidence that the burgers here are not made from pink slime and have the magnanimity to teach consumers how to identify burgers made with such gunk. And the company's whole production chain should be open to inspection by officials, the public and media.
China's food safety law already grants the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine the right to test samples and inspect the production and process sites of food makers.
Transparency is the best way to overcome the suspicions of consumers. If the company chooses to stick its head in the sand and ignore the public's concerns, consumers will finally vote with their feet.
Since McDonald's China has not yet shown any sincerity or readiness to open its production and processing to inspection, the related authorities should act quickly according to the law to meet the public's right to know in food safety incidents.
Periodic inspections by food safety supervisors should be instituted in the future for all food producers, regardless of their backgrounds. The relevant authorities must be more responsive and crack down hard on any malpractices in food production in order to deter others from compromising food safety.
China's food safety standards are lower than developed countries, but that does not mean food producers can put profit before the safety of consumers.