Sunday, April 15, 2012


Most developing countries have the tendency to bend backwards to please multinational food companies for attracting foreign investment at "any cost" by evolving policies that are considered too liberal. In India most MNCs have a field day with barely any visible strategy or vigilance on the part of the government to monitor their actions which cannot be considered consumer friendly too often. The infamous Bhopal Gas Tragedy is still fresh in the memory of people and how the government then in power enabled the responsible people to escape with barely rap on their knuckle is part of history. Even to day the successor company Dow Chemicals is least bothered about the human tragedy that shook the international community. With unlimited freedom given to these companies Indian food sector is dominated by half a dozen such giants operating with impunity, destroying the domestic food processors slowly. In contrast look at the Chinese landscape where the government has shown great alacrity in booking those causing potential injury to its citizens. Latest to be booked is the global potato fry manufacturer who had to apologize to the country for its deficiencies in safeguarding the safety of products served by them. Here is a take on this episode as reported from China. 

"Just weeks after launching an advertising campaign focused on food and quality safety in China, McDonalds is under fire for local food safety violations. State-run China Central Television accused the company of selling chicken wings more than an hour and a half after they were cooked, which is about an hour past the company's self-imposed rule. The report also said that workers prepared and served beef that had fallen on the floor. The investigation was launched to mark World Consumer Rights Day on Wednesday. "McDonald's China attaches great importance to this," the company responded on its website. "We will immediately investigate this isolated incident, resolutely deal with it earnestly and take concrete actions to apologize to consumers." 

Interestingly there is an orchestrated campaign in that country as well as in the international circuits that MNCs re being discriminated against by Chinese authorities who are showing extra lenience while dealing with local processors. There may be some truth in that allegation but it does not speak well of these food giants when they start comparing themselves with their domestic counterparts while claiming at the same time that their technological superiority gives the consumers a better and safer product!. Chinese government, in spite of all food safety scandals happening in the country must be given due credit for disciplining the foreign food manufacturers who have greater potential to harm the consumers through their awesome technological and financial clout. Countries like India must learn a lesson from this episode to increase state vigilance on the working of some of the MNCs who have the notoriety in manipulating state policies in their favor and cause irreparable damage in the long run. 

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