Keeping the Mystery Out of China's Meat

Fox? Mink? Rat? Western companies become food cops
Photograph by Leela Punyaratabandhu

When the yellow liquid in a test tube containing tiny pieces of string beans turns clear, Chloe Fan knows why. A nearby computer screen quickly confirms her suspicion: Pesticide levels in the sample are twice as high as accepted standards. Fan, a Wal-Mart Stores food scientist in Guangzhou, runs another test, then has the shipment of beans pulled, stopping a batch of chemical-laced vegetables from reaching customers at the retailer’s stores in China. Hers is a job that can’t be taken for granted. “China has food safety rules,” says Fan, 24, clad in a white laboratory coat and surrounded by beakers and test tubes, “but not all suppliers in China understand and follow them.”

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