China’s Processed Foods Become More Transparent Thanks to New Registry

processed foods ingredients

Processed foods are bad for us, often because it’s hard to know exactly what’s in them. Most companies like to hide the nasty stuff they use to make processed foods so addictive, but a recent move by the Chinese Food and Drug Administration is about to pull back the curtain on food additives.

Starting in January 2014, all companies manufacturing, producing, packaging, selling or using food additives will be required to register the product name and the additives it contains with in a specialized government database. The registry initially launched in 2011 in response to the discovery of toxic plasticizers in processed foods, but until recently participation was only voluntary.

“The decision to make registration mandatory, the FDA said, was made because other food scandals emerged this year, including the unauthorized use of modified starches in food products and the use of unauthorized additives in cooking oils,” reports Focus Taiwan.

The FDA will enforce the mandatory registry by inspecting facilities where processed foods are made to verify that companies are only dealing with the additives they have registered. “Companies that fail to comply with the new rules will face a fine of between NT$30,000-NT$3 million (US$1,006-$100,572) under the Act Governing Food Sanitation,” reports China Post.

The move is just another example of how far behind the U.S. has fallen in terms of protecting consumers from toxic ingredients in processed foods. Where the European Union and China have pumped the brakes on genetically engineered foods and toxic food dyes in candy and cereals, the U.S. FDA refuses to take similar precautions.

Until the FDA steps up, it’s the job of conscious consumers to keep the pressure on the makers of processed foods to come clean about what’s in their products.

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