Solving China's Food Safety Crisis, One App at a Time
Along with the lung-threatening terribleness of China's urban air pollution, food safety is a major disincentive for living in this country. From melamine in milk to exploding watermelons, there's always a lingering doubt that what you're about to bite into will kill you, or at least grow you an extra arm.
The government is cracking down – and even executed two officials over the milk scandal – but it can only do so much. There's seemingly a fruit and vegetable vendor on almost ever corner in Shanghai, for instance, and with a population of 13.4 million, I can tell you there are a lot of corners.
So, instead of waiting for the government to solve the problem, citizens are taking matters into their own hands. Internet security firm Kingsoft recently launched the China Survival Guide, an iPhone app that tracks food scandals across China. The app was downloaded more than 200,000 times in its first week, according to the China Daily.
The newspaper also points out that it's not the first food-tracking Internet tool on the market. In June last year, a graduate student at Shanghai's Fudan University set up a website where users could follow the latest news reports on food safety by location or food type.
Last month, the site, called "Throw it Out the Window", crashed as a result of too much traffic. Its name was inspired by a story the site's creator read about US President Theodore Roosevelt throwing a breakfast sausage out of a White House window after reading about the state of meat processing in Chicago, according to the AP. Roosevelt's 1906 legislation paved the way for the US Food and Drug Administration.