Recently, supermarkets in Beijing emptied their live fish tanks just as a government food and safety watchdog group was about to carry out health checks. Hmm… sounds a little fishy?
Yesterday, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) confirmed that it would launch a special investigation on seafood in 12 cities nationwide. Apparently, it had been leaked before that Beijing would be among these 12 cities, so instead of doing something about potential health and safety problem, supermarkets across the city decided to simply empty their fish tanks in a bid to evade inspection. This wave included numerous large supermarkets like Carrefour, Walmart and Wumart.
“Store operators are worried, so they decided to remove their stocks of live fish,” an anonymous source at CFDA told Caixin.
Perhaps operators can all claim to have suddenly found religion and decided to carry out a mass fangsheng ceremony, releasing the fish back into the wild?
The suspension of the sale of fresh water fish from supermarkets around the capital has only fueled fears over water safety. The CFDA attempted to quells these fears with a post on its official Weibo account, stating that over 90% of aquatic products sold in the city passed quality inspections.
Meanwhile, Wumart’s food safety manager said that its outlets had started suspending the sales of carp, bass and other live water fish in May as part of “normal corporate behavior.” The manager claimed that the company was instead moving sales to chilled or frozen fish, reacting to customers’ demands.
Which is interesting because a Walmart outlet in central Beijing said that its fresh water fish sourced from around the capital had been pulled due to a “problematic feed.” They instead replenished stocks with fish from Zhejiang province, which had already been tested.
Locals actually seem more worried about the lack of fresh fish available at supermarkets. Some residents have complained that carp, perch and other other popular fresh water species are no longer available anywhere, reported South China Morning Post.
Along with the consumer, the real loser in this situation appear to be the local “wet markets,” which did not have advance warning of surprise inspections and have limited supply options available to them — so it’s unlikely that they can simply replenish stocks with pre-tested fish from Zhejiang.
Until the real issue is dealt with, it might be smart to swear off seafood for a while… along with pork, beef, mutton and chicken.
By Seamus Gibson
[Images via Caixin / Sina]
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