The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) said last year saw 562,402 complaints and tip-offs about food, pharmaceuticals, dietary supplements, cosmetics and medical equipment.
Xinhua, China’s official news agency, quoted a CFDA official, Liu Pei, as saying that most complaints were about online sales of fake products, false advertising, unlicensed production and adverse reactions.
Around 74% of complaints were about food, while 6.3% related to dietary supplements.
Nearly 78% complaints were collected by the government’s whistleblower hotline, while websites, letters and personal visits accounted for the remainder, said Liu.
China has increased its food safety activity over the last two years in the face of widespread cases of adulteration, mislabelling and fraud.
In January, the CFDA promised to step up its “active regulation”, meaning that food companies now expect unannounced, on-site inspections, random tests and other actions.
"We must soberly recognise the current foundations of China's food and drug safety are still weak, with new and old risks together creating a grim situation," the regulator said at the time.
Since the erstwhile State Food and Drug Administration was restructured to be more efficient and made a ministry-level department almost two years ago, regulators have broadcast plans to crack down on food safety several times, this this usually happens in response to the latest scandal.
Liu said the complaints and tip-offs have become invaluable as a means to prompt investigations and deal with crime, with tip-offs leading to 57% of the major food and drug cases last year.