[EDITORIALS]Take food safety seriously

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[EDITORIALS]Take food safety seriously

The “dumpling gate,” in which spoiled ingredients were used to make dumplings, is a good example of how far behind developed nations our country is in regard to sanitation matters. Spoiled pickled radishes that should have been thrown away were bought by food companies to fill dumplings. A loose monitoring system and lack of moral scruples made this possible, and the public is just trembling with anger. Who can say that other food items are safe?
The holes in the monitoring system that is responsible for keeping an eye on food sanitation cannot be ignored anymore. The police and the Korea Food and Drug Administration needed to cooperate from the beginning, investigate quickly and dispose of the dumplings in question. Nevertheless, while the police were investigating the case, they had postponed their probe of dumpling manufacturers for three months. In the meantime, unsanitary dumplings were consumed. What is even more disturbing is that the food and drug administration did nothing, although it knew an investigation had been launched by the police. Both organizations are responsible, and someone needs to be punished.
Under the current laws and systems there is really no way to prevent food-related crimes. Even if a company is forced to close down, it can resume operations if it moves its business to another location. The head of the food and drug agency or a provincial government has the authority to commute business suspension to imposition of a fine.
A culprit who twice received orders to close his business continued to manufacture bad dumpling stuffing after paying penalties of only 6.6 million won ($5,700). Although President Roh Moo-hyun directed the rooting out of all food-related crimes, this is the reason why the same kind of crime is repeated. Even the press must reflect whether it has played its monitoring role.
Although the government has stepped up its efforts, it does not really look like it is doing the best it can. Those who commit food-related crimes must be expelled from the industry permanently and their names should be made public. The Food Sanitation Act needs to be changed so that heavier punishments can be given, while a mandatory recall system should be introduced.
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