FOOD SAFETY – border ecologies

By Alessandro Mascheroni August 3, 2017 Discover Airaware project

As the population of this country is big and its food culture widely diversified, food safety is a huge subject in china. As for many other topics, Hong Kong and Shenzhen are mixed together and specific rules are made up for food safety. The border from Hong Kong to Shenzhen is sensible, as the mixing of the cities must be simple and evident. On the contrary it must not be too simple as the border gives entry to the entire country. The one country two systems is very visible with the food restrictions and the relations between both parties. On one side Hong Kong is importing 60% of its drinking water from China and on the other side Honk Kong benefits the liberal market independence and its own judicial system and thus more imported goods. When entering Shenzhen, it is explicitly noted not to import raw meat and no egg-based products.


In addition to the water import, the Hong Kong department for food and health declares that more than 90 % of the food is imported (1) and mainly from Chinese mainland. Hence, the quality of these imported food directly affects the health of Hong Kong citizens. Nevertheless, Hong Kong is the top food safety city in China thanks to investments in researches and to use of food controls measures that allows quick detection of unhealthy food, there is even a dedicated center (2). 

The center for food safety gives information about the restrictions that are in place in Hong Kong. The last restrictions were made about egg products because of the recent avian influenza. There has not been any restriction for fish from japan because of Fukushima.

In Shenzhen, the restriction are dictated by the Chinese government as any other city in China, the restrictions are therefore less specific. There is actually a system for food quality which has been implemented for restaurants to give the customer an information about the status of restaurants. This system requires restaurant to be checked more often if their grade is bad.

To upgrade food safety standards in the Chinese mainland, PolyU’s Food Safety and Technology Research Centre established a laboratory in Shenzhen in 2011 (4). Accredited by the Shenzhen Government, the laboratory has recently been elevated to a Key Laboratory to conduct food safety testing and research. Each year,  they gather about 5’000 food samples from Hong Kong, Shenzhen and Guangzhou restaurants, then they perform research and tests over these samples in order to find eventual bacterias and drugs resistance against their growth. Indeed, major bacterial pathogens that possibly cause food poisoning and infection in those three regions can thus be predicted.

The continuous growth of research centers let citizens become more aware about food safety issues, in fact is not that rarely, In Shenzhen restaurants, to find people eating with gloves when they have to use their hands to eat.  Waiters bring them to the table with the food and you can wear them whenever you want to.

As the main difference to Hong Kong, Shenzhen has a food supply which is given by the same country and also local production in the province. This also gives the possibility to have local specialties like the salt-cooked pigeon or the chicken feet soup. For the similarities between the two cities regarding food safety, both city restaurant like to expose the meat on spikes to give the client some insight (many ducks hanging at windows) and some fishes as well, despite the great heat. Furthermore, the street food is very present in both cities, being a typical eating habit for locals.

Food safety is generally a big deal in both cities, more than any other part of the world because of multiple outbreaks of contaminated food in the past, thus the creation of the food safety center (3), which prevent now the risks and decreased the outbreaks.

Some of our colleagues had a first-hand experience of bad food safety and got sick for few days after eating in a small restaurant along the street in Shenzhen. 

After eating, we got a look to the place where cooks were preparing food and it didn’t seem very healthy. 

If we had seen before this situation, probably we wouldn’t have eaten there. So it’s absolutely recommended checking the quality and the grade of the restaurant before deciding to eat there.









Alessandro Mascheroni

Bruno Produit