Chinese health experts have reportedly estimated that “at least 30,000 children developed early maturity” in Shanghai alone, raising concerns about food additives and pesticides allegedly laden with sex hormones. According to an August 18, 2010, China Daily article, one doctor with the Beijing Maternal and Child Healthcare Hospital has suggested that “early maturity in Chinese children is as high as 1 percent, nearly 10 times the rate in most Western countries.” The physician apparently attributed the condition “to the rising amount of estrogen in the food chain as the result of pesticides being sprayed on fruit and vegetables.”
Although China Daily noted the 2009 Food Safety Law and other attempts to regulate food additives, it also suggested that enforcement has been difficult if not “impossible.” As one researcher with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention purportedly said, “China has 200 million scattered rural households that produce food, and has more than 500,000 small and medium food processors.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner Margaret Hamburg has apparently praised China’s recent efforts to improve its food safety record. Speaking after her first visit to the FDA inspection post in Beijing, Hamburg reportedly lauded the agency’s work with Chinese officials to safeguard products exported to the United States. “We will never have the resources, human or financial, to inspect all these facilities on a regular basis so we are working through bilateral multilateral arrangements and try to share information and harmonize standards and approaches in ways that benefit all of us as a global community of regulators,” she was quoted as saying. See The Associated Press, August 13, 2010; The Wall Street Journal, August 15, 2010.