A senior Chinese investigator briefed Japanese officials, four days after the closure of the Olympic Games, that there is a strong possibility that the dumplings could have been tainted at the factory in Tianyang Food in Hubei, after four Chinese had fallen ill from eating the company’s dumplings.
I am of the view that if the outcome of the investigation is such that if the methamidophos, an organophosphorous pesticide, was intentionally mixed into the “gyoza” at the company's factory then the person or persons involved must be severely prosecuted.
In December 2007, 10 persons from Hyogo and Chiba prefectures in Japan, complained of diarrhea and vomiting after eating Tianyang Food's gyoza. The poisoning cases created a diplomatic spat between the governments of both countries which eventually led to massive investigations from both ends.
Four Chinese people in June 2008 fell ill after eating the dumplings products that Tianyang Food had recalled following the poisoning cases in Japan, indicating the controls were weak and that there are signs that the harmful chemicals were present before it is exported to Japan.
The Chinese investigators have re-opened investigations and begun questioning temporary workers at the food manufacturer including those who have left the company. Production records, attendance registers, security cameras footage and data on chemicals used at the factory, as well as antiseptics from the company were carted away by the authorities.
Some sources doubt that the Chinese authorities are not serious in pursuing the cases because of suspected involvement of persons linked to the Hubei provincial government. If this is the case, it is all the more important and essential that the central government should step in to provide assurance to the Chinese people that they are committed and serious in overcoming corrupted activities especially those involving people who are entrusted to govern at the provincial level and their related parties as well.
China, being a world’s manufacturer of electronics and now, a diversified processed food exporter must provide assurance to its global consumers that they intend to move up the production chain to produce high value added quality products by handling this high publicity case in an appropriate and convincing manner.
Quality production set-up (with no compromise on safety and health values) and stringent food controls are important pre-requites towards being a reliable world’s food producer.