According to a report by the China-based company AsiaInspection, 51% of all food facility check-ups conducted in the country failed, with major defects including cases of rodent faecal contamination accounting for around 10%.
The fact that over half of all Chinese food inspections fail is even more alarming when compared to an average failure rate for non-food products of about 30%.
Evidence of this overwhelming deficit in food safety is supported by government figures. According to China's State Administration for Industry and Commerce, in 2011 62,000 illegal food cases were reported. Additionally, authorities stopped the operation of 43,000 unlicensed food-producing businesses found to be operating illegally and revoked the business licenses of 576 operators during the same period.
Food safety is not limited to only the food itself. Food packaging, with a 2011 inspection failure rate of 57% is just as critical.
According to FERA, the United Kingdom's governing food and environment agency, common chemical contaminants like the infamous melamine often come from food cans and lids or from plastic food containers. Melamine - responsible for the infamous 2008 Sanlu milk scandal sickening over 300,000 - has been found at high levels in canned dog food shipments as recently as January 2011.
Chinese milk is back in the news as well, as this December China's largest dairy company, Mengniu, destroyed a batch of milk contaminated with Aflatoxin, a substance commonly found in mildewed animal feed that can cause liver cancer. The chemical was found during a random spot check by the Chinese governing body AQSIQ. Only 10% of the batches contained the deadly chemical, meaning it was only by a slim chance that a random spot check found the defect before the product reached consumers.
Like melamine, other chemicals that are banned by the Chinese government due to deadly effects are still routinely found in shipments of food products. According to Food and Water Watch, one such substance, clembuterol - which is toxic to humans - is administered to animals to give them leaner meat and pinker skin.