Hongkong is in a buzz recently as the town is caught in food safety shambles. First we discovered eggs and duck eggs with cancer-causing Sudan Red, aka the carcinogenic dyes; then sample after sample of fish tested were found with a banned antibiotic known as the malachite green, revealed just a few days after we learned that most of the bean curd sheets on sale are contaminated with formaldehyde and boric acid.
The turbot was first, very soon the bream, freshwater grouper, grass carp (fine by me, just a 'social eater' for them only), and finally it was the dice fish (major screw up here -- I 'heart' deep-fried dice fishballs). Panic is escalating in such a blazing pace that no one in town knows for sure what is safe to eat anymore. If you're studying public health and want to do a paper on food safety crisis, look no further for a place with its food chain gone for a burton. But if all you want is a freshwater fish for dinner, you're bust.
The sad fact is, amid such spate of public fear for tainted food, the remissful food safety officials seems almost tongue-tied about all the hazardous food in question making good to the kitchen, since most of these food come from the PRC, a place that's obviously out of our jurisdiction.
By rights, the press might be flaming the whole issue a bit too fierce, brainwashing the public to see the issue through the prim of laboratory overkill -- making people to believe we're in for a disaster of epic proportion of something. But allow me to mind you this: the trace of toxic chemicals found in most food was so diminutive that it takes almost a fleet of consumption, in a very short span of time to actually get poisoned; whereas, we know by common sense that anyone who eats up a barrel of fish in a day will be sent up to the morgue in fills before any cancer can get him. Yet, one question remains. Who of we buyers deserves any of these risks anyway? It's a dishonest and wicked practice to add poisoning chemicals to the food you're selling just to make it looks glossier and sells faster. It harms, don't these badasses ever understand?
Greed and ignorance, of course, could be an easy explanation for what's happening in China presently. But there's another, as reminded by the Analects of Confucius (論語).
“其身正，不令而行；其身不正，雖令不行。” 'When a prince's personal conduct is correct, his government is effective without the issuing of orders. If his personal conduct is incorrect, he may issue orders, but they will not be followed.'
Confucius was right to foresee all this. The primal reason, you see, can be spelled out in four kindergarten words: what government, what people.
Alas, fish out of water aside, is there any thing we can do? Yes, there is. We can pray to Zao Jun, the God of Stove. That might be our only hope...