In the recent years, food safety in Shanghai, China has become an enormous public health problem. Hotels in Eastern China have increasingly been associated with food safety issues such as food poisoning, contamination and unhealthy food ingredients which have cost the region its popularity in the hospitality industry. Shanghai is situated strategically on the Eastern region of China; thus, making it a preferred destination for international tourists. In addition, the city hosts a large number of industries. As such, it has a considerably a large population compared to other cities in the region. It is also known for its heterogeneous population comprising of tourists and foreign workers, as well as, entrepreneurs from foreign countries. It is believed that its strategic location has enabled it to achieve a competitive advantage in the production and hospitality industries because it serves as a gateway into the other East Asian countries and the Pacific region (Lau et al., 2013).
It is believed that the enormous population in Shanghai has always been the anchor of the hospitality industry in which hotels and restaurants experience an immense demand of food reserves from the population. This is probably the reason as to why multinational investors have established hotels and restaurants in the region to harness the benefits of the large client base, primarily in Shanghai city.
However, food safety problems seem to have exerted an undesirable impact on the progress of the hospitality industry. For instance, the increasing cases of food poisoning and industrial pollution of the environment have caused unprecedented outcry from the tourists and investors in the hotel industry. Therefore, this research paper will discuss food safety problems in Shanghai. It will also discuss several solutions to the food safety problems which have impacted negatively on the hotel industry in Shanghai and its environs, owing to the dangers of unhealthy foods.
Food Safety Problems
Ordinarily, Shanghai residents consume various delicacies in which most of them come from animal sources. The most common food sources in Shanghai include seafood such as fish, squids and crabs, beef and pork. In addition, local rivers which flow in the Shanghai region produce freshwater fish and other edible aquatic animals such as crabs. Chicken is also popular in most hotels in Shanghai although street vendor are known for the distribution of chicken dishes to the residents. Moreover, pork products are quite popular in Shanghai hotels.
Ideally, food safety is usually assessed on the basis of the source of any given food. For instance, the safety of seafood can be assessed depending on the safety of the aquatic environment from where the fish and squids are obtained from, especially with regard to contamination levels with industrial wastes. However, it is quite surprising that most foods in Shanghai are not known where they are obtained from and this raises food safety concerns from consumers and public health stakeholders. CNN (2011) reports “Shanghai’s street food has ‘unidentifiable sources’; eating street food in Shanghai is like gambling - 70 percent of the time, you don’t actually know what you're getting” (par. 1). This has prompted foreign countries to establish travel advisories to their citizens who are travelling to Shanghai and its neighboring cities to prevent exposure to health hazards caused by unsafe diets in the region.
Some of the most common food safety problems in Shanghai include food poisoning, industrial contamination and food processing.
In Shanghai as well as the entire China, animal products are considered as the principal sources of food for the local population. For instance, beef, fish and chicken are quite popular in hotels and restaurants in the street of Shanghai. This is probably the reason as top why cases of food poisoning have been the principal food safety issues in the region. Ordinarily, chicken and fish products have always been associated with bacteria contamination owing to poor hygienic standards, primarily in regard to food storage and preparation. In most cases, food contamination with Clostridium bacteria which cause botulinism disease in humans has been found to be responsible for the highest number of food poisoning in the region. Clostridium bacteria flourish in unhygienic conditions, especially when storage and preparation of chicken and fish products are not done in an appropriate manner causing food contamination.
In most cases, bacteria contamination of animal products with bacteria causes acute illnesses to people who consume contaminated foods in hotels and restaurants. It also causes death in case the issue is not responded to accordingly by hotel managers and healthcare providers. For instance, botulinism disease has always been known to cause death instantly in people who consume contaminated animal products and this causes a significant health concern among consumers in Shanghai where fish and chicken are the major sources of diet.
On the other hand, environmental contamination in Shanghai has contributed significantly to the current food safety problems. Shanghai hosts a large number of industrial processing plants which are known to be the leading causes of environmental pollution in the region. Environmental assessment reports indicate that most industries discharge harmful effluents into the flowing rivers in the region causing contamination in the rivers and the Eastern coast. Pollution of the aquatic environment with chemical industrial wastes disrupts the ecosystem by causing biotic and abiotic imbalances; thus, affecting the natural food chains. Ordinarily, harmful chemical wastes which are discharged into rivers and the sea find their way into the bodies of the fishes, squids and other aquatic animals which are heavily consumed by the Shanghai population as delicacies. As a result, people acquire the harmful chemicals through consuming contaminated animal products. It has been found out that industrial contamination of aquatic environments in the region has led to the current surge of some chronic illnesses such as cancer because most chemicals which are contained in industrial effluent wastes are highly carcinogenic.
Moreover, industrial chemicals are believed to have caused are and soil contamination. As a result, the safety level of vegetables and fruits which are supplied to hotels and restaurants in Shanghai have become compromised because most of them contain harmful chemicals which may cause devastating health consequences in consumers. It is feared that, vegetable dishes which are popular among the Shanghai residents pose health hazards to the consumers because most of them are obtained from contaminated sources. This is probably the reason as to why most hotels and restaurants in Shanghai have been blamed for serving their customers with unsafe foods which end up causing health problems in their bodies.
In addition, water has also been identified as one of the causes of food contamination in Shanghai because the rivers flowing through Shanghai are contaminated with chemical wastes from the industries (Xiaoqin, 2010). Therefore, hotels in Shanghai are experiencing an enormous food safety problem because they do not have adequate supplies of safe water for domestic purposes.
Another significant food safety problem in Shanghai is the availability of processed foods in hotels and restaurants. It has been found out that most hotels and restaurants in Shanghai do not use freshly prepared dishes. Instead, they incorporate processed food products such as milk and pork. This raises unprecedented food safety concern because milk has always been blamed for contamination across China (West, 2011). In most cases, processed foods in Shanghai are found to contain some unhealthy ingredients. For instance, most processed food products which have gained supplies to hotels and restaurants have been found to contain high levels of sugars and salt. In other incidences, processed foods contain harmful proteins which are incorporated accidentally during industries processes leading to food contamination (Hansen, 2013).