Food Law And China

Financial Crisis, US Elections.. let us not forget the other big story at the moment. China’s Melamine crisis…

AALE is HK based and almost everyday we learn about a new way that Melamine has managed to make it’s way into the food chain.


In HK this week it’s brown eggs from china… Chicken feed maufacturers have been putting Melamine into feed and the rest isn’t rocket science.


We’ve already reported how lawyers have been dissuaded from taking on plaintiffs’ cases in China.


The following post by US lawyer Bill Marler who was invited by the PRC govt to talk at a food safety conference sums up rather sadly what is happening in China at the moment

Chinese Food Products and the Law – A Trial Lawyer in China

Last September I was invited by the Chinese Government to speak at a food safety conference in Beijing. Later that week I found myself sitting in the posh lobby of the Beijing Ritz Carlton chatting with a young Chinese lawyer – a first time visitor to the hotel. He was a skinny, 30-something, very serious and earnest, draped in an ill-fitting suit. As we spoke through an interpreter, he occasionally excused himself to take cell phone calls from parents of kids sickened by melamine-tainted infant formula. He wanted to go to court to force Sanlu (an infant formula company owned jointly by the Chinese Government and a New Zealand Corporation) to pay his clients’ medical bills. He was seeking no fee. He wanted justice, but was being discouraged by the government and his own profession from representing these families. He was frustrated, understandably intimidated, and a bit scared, but kept taking the calls.

That conversation—and my entire experience in China—left me rethinking my profession and the role of law and lawyers in a free society. I thought how blessed I am that when a client hires me to prosecute a claim, I seldom think twice about who the defendant is. I certainly never worry that the bar association or government will tell me who I can or cannot represent. I never worry that my clients’ or my freedom could be in jeopardy for making a claim.

Being in China provided me with a fresh appreciation of a fundamental idea that is the basis for my livelihood, and at the core of the American civil justice system. I was reminded that our precious and potentially precarious system needs to be constantly defended, lest we find ourselves relying solely on the open market or government to keep poison out of our kids’ milk bottles.


Full Article:


While the central government struggles to keep up with scandal they may want to take take a closer look at the far west of the



The San Francisco Chronicle reports that in Urumqi, the state capital of Xinjiang region no such dramas are unfolding. The populace are majority muslim and stick to a strict halal diet.


The Chronicle writes:


All food must be certified by a local Islamic Council. At meat plants, imams or nonclerics trained in ritual slaughter are present daily. Council members also periodically visit processing factories to ensure compliance with religious laws, while government inspectors are responsible for food safety.

"Halal food is traditional," said Hui. "There are few additives to the food during the processing, so it’s safer."

In past months, hundreds of Xinjiang residents have been sickened and an infant has died from tainted milk products imported from other regions of China. But so far, provincial officials say, Xinjiang’s domestic milk supply has remained safe in part because of halal oversight.

And they are determined to keep it that way by combining strict government inspection with the moral authority of Islam.

"The dairy industry is regulated by both religious and government institutions," said Wei Sheng Wang, director of the government’s Xinjiang ethnic trade commission. "So we don’t have contamination at the moment."


Read the full report at:


Maybe the prc central govt could introduce some halal tenets into the country’s food production legislation and kill two birds with one stone. They’d be at least making an attempt to improve attitude to the food manufacturing business in China ( a hard ask) and at the same time showing respect to an increasingly disaffected muslim populace.


News Inferno  also has this story:


China Melamine Problems Could Get Worse
Date Published: Friday, November 7th, 2008
Many believe that the current China melamine scandal could worsen given past scandals that emerged out of that country.

What is now being called “The Chinese Product Safety Scandal of 2008,” seemingly began with the deaths of four infants and the sickening and hospitalization of tens of thousands of children in China as a result of consuming melamine-tainted formula.  Upon investigation, a long-established chain of greed, incompetence, negligence, and ignorance allowed the toxic industrial chemical entry into not only China’s food chain, but into the international food market, as well.  Inspections and action only occurred after the situation spiraled completed out of control and when the problem was first brought to the attention of the authorities months ago—as early as January, infants in China being fed Sanlu brand baby formula were developing kidney problems—it was downplayed and ignored by company and government officials for months.

Now that the situation has run amok and recalls over tainted China-imported food products are occurring internationally, other tainted products are beginning to be identified.  Despite this, officials in China claim the problems are not systemic and are isolated incidents.  Regardless, others in the industry have admitted that melamine tainting is a widespread and accepted aspect of the food chain in that country.  And even though 3,600 tons of contaminated eggs were discovered, China’s agriculture minister, Sun Zhengcai, is still maintaining that the tainted eggs are an isolated incident.