Tuesday, January 22, 2019

Rural Food Fraud Campaign in Pictures

A 3-month rural food fraud crackdown is underway in China. Food safety regulation, inspection and enforcement tends to be especially lax in rural communities. This campaign, apparently timed for the peak shopping season leading up the Spring Festival holiday, is intended to reassure rural residents that authorities care about them and to improve the quality of life in the countryside. The Ministry of Agriculture said the campaign is meant to prevent potential risks arising from the large rural food market which is characterized by "low-level" consumption, served mainly by small, scattered merchants with insufficient supervision. Regulation of rural food markets is a "long-term, arduous task," the Ministry said. This post will explain the program using propaganda illustrations.
[note: about half of these images mysteriously disappeared after posting and can no longer be found online]
Propaganda cartoon shows a rat carrying "fake and shoddy foods" 
from the "city" where the flashlight of "supervision" shines to the countryside.
Truck carrying "problem food" drives through a "supervision" 
loophole from city to countryside under cover of night.
Local officials from six departments are inspecting rural food shops, markets, small restaurants and workshops to root out fraudulent or shoddy foods (as described by authorities in a Fujian Province locality):
  • Fraudulent or mislabeled foods: untruthful factory name or location, logo, product name, product image.
  • "Copycat" infringement: fake packaging, labels and lettering imitating food brands to fool consumers.
  • Counterfeits: fake mutton, dog or donkey meat.
  • Labels that do not identify the manufacturer, lack a production date or license.
  • Inferior quality food: shoddy or not compliant with national standards
  • Food past its sell-by date
  • Vegetables lacking a digital code to ensure traceability
Counterfeits are a target of the campaign: a cookie package uses similar colors and 
lettering with a slightly different Chinese character, and an image similar to a bona fide Oreo package.
A cartoon used as part of the rural food fraud campaign shows a shabbily-dressed peasant 
carrying a box of "copy cat foods" and thinking he will "also eat brand-name foods"
The campaign focuses on instant foods, snack foods, alcoholic beverages, condiments like soy sauce and vinegar, dairy products, and meat. Inspectors will focus on small food producers, shops, food stalls and vendors, small restaurants, and small traders. Inspections will be stepped up during holidays, weddings and funerals, and peak times for farm work.
Food past its sell-by date is painted with chemicals by a dishonest merchant.

Red letters crowded on this Shanghai document show six separate local bureaucracies expected to jointly carry out the rural fake food campaign: agricultural and commercial bureaus, police, bureaus for market supervision and intellectual property rights, and the farm supply and marketing cooperative.  
Officials inspect a food counter in a supermarket

Banners announcing the crackdown on rural food fraud in a county town reassure consumers 
but also warn perpetrators to clean up their act until the 3-month campaign is over

Truckloads of illegal food hauled away! Campaign is a great success! 
Officials go back to their offices in six different buildings. Problem solved...until the next campaign.
The intent is to change this cycling between crackdowns and business as usual, 
but the Ministry of Agriculture describes it as "a long and arduous task."

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