Young Girl Questions Chinese Officials about Food Safety

December 7, 2012

Unlocking Word Meanings
Read the following words/expressions found in today’s article. 

1. congress (n.) [kong-gris; kuh n-gres, kuh ng-] – a meeting of the government’s representatives or leaders
Example: The new leaders of China were presented during the national congress.

2. contaminated (adj.) [kuh n-tam-uh-ney-ted, -neyt] – containing something dirty or harmful
Example: The water is contaminated with soil.
3. question (v.) [kwes-chuh n] – to challenge the accurateness or correctness of something
Example: People question the character of corrupt leaders.

4. in place (v. phrase) [in pleys] – already there, existing
Example: The new law is in place so violators can be immediately punished.

5. pesticide (n.) [pes-tuh-sahyd] – something that kills pests (insects or small animals that destroys plants)
Example: The farmer sprayed pesticide on the apple trees to prevent insects from eating the fruits.

Read the text below.

In China’s 18th party congress held last November, an 11-year-old girl reporter named Sun Luyuan asked government officials difficult questions related to food safety in China.

Luyuan’s question came as a surprise to officials who have become comfortable with taking questions from obedient government media reporters. Luyuan who works for the Chinese Teenager News asked what was being done to ensure the safety of food products being sold to school children. She shared that even she was scared of eating snacks because they might be contaminated with harmful chemicals.

The young reporter questioned officials on why unsafe products were still being sold. She also asked about what the Chinese government was doing to solve the problem.

Chinese Education minister, Yuan Guiren, answered with only the usual response. He assured everyone that the Chinese government was taking care of the problem and that proper safety measures were already in place.

Chinese consumers have become more and more worried over the safety of the food they buy. The public has been through many food scares over the years.  In 2008, the illegal chemical melamine was found in Chinese dairy products, causing a major food scandal.  Around 300,000 babies became sick while six died after drinking milk contaminated with melamine.

Other food safety issues, such as cancer-causing chemicals found in cooking oil and pesticides added to food, have destroyed the public’s confidence in the government.

Viewpoint Discussion
Enjoy a discussion with your tutor. 

Discussion A

·         Should children and teenagers be allowed to ask questions to government officials? Why or why not?
·         How can we encourage young people to be more concerned about their country’s issues?

Discussion B

·         Do you trust your government to regulate the safety of food in your country? How do you make sure your food is safe?
·         What about food from other countries? Do you trust the safety of imported food? Please explain your answer.


December 7, 2012