February 25, 2024


The former head of China’s Food and Drug Administration has been sentenced to death for taking US$850,000 in bribes and allowing tainted foodstuffs and medicines to be sold. Zheng Xiaoyu was commissioner of the FDA from its founding in 1998 to 2005. After several scandals abroad featuring tainted food and fake drugs, the Chinese government is cracking down hard.

Recently contaminated pet food was shipped to the US, but this may be just the tip of the iceberg. In Panama, more than 100 people died last year after drinking cough syrup laced with a toxic chemical sometimes used to make antifreeze. In China itself, thousands of people fall ill or die because of widespread counterfeiting of drugs and substandard food. The government is now reviewing more than 170,000 production licenses issued by the food and drug agency over the past 10 years. “The death penalty wouldn’t be excessive punishment for Zheng,” Wang Yigao, a professor at the Hunan Academy of Sciences told the New York Times.