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China slams reports that companies are selling human flesh to Africa

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

China slams reports that companies are selling human flesh to Africa

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Chinese food companies have not been selling human meat as food in Africa, according to a top government official who dismissed Zambian media claims as “malicious slandering and vilification”.

China’s The country's state-run Xinhua news service said a newspaper in Zambia had falsely quoted a Zambian resident in China who warned people not to buy Chinese corned beef. The report subsequently spread quickly on social media.

She said that Chinese businesses collected human corpses, marinated them and packed them in tins before sending them to Africa as corned beef.

Yang Youming, China’s ambassador to Zambia, said the reports aimed to destroy the country’s long-standing partnership with Zambia.

"Today a local tabloid newspaper is openly spreading a rumour, claiming that the Chinese use human meat to make corned beef and sell it to Africa. 

“This is completely a malicious slandering and vilification which is absolutely unacceptable to us​," the ambassador said in a statement.

"We hereby express our utmost anger and the strongest condemnation over such an act​.”

China has asked the Zambian government to investigate the tabloid and find the source of the rumour. According to the BBC, the photos supposedly showing dead bodies are from a 2012 marketing campaign for the video game Resident Evil 6.

"The government of Zambia regrets the incident in view of the warm relations that exist between Zambia and China​,” said Zambia's deputy defence minister, Christopher Mulenga, who promised to take action. 

We shall make sure that relevant government authorities will take up the investigations and give a comprehensive statement​," he added.

More stories from China…

Chinese consumers getting healthier, losing taste for Western fast food

Chinese consumers appear to be falling out of love with Western fast-food chains after a McKinsey & Company survey revealed a significant drop in customers between 2012 and 2015.

Fast food

Last year, only 51% of respondents said they ate at restaurants such as McDonald’s and KFC, the consultancy reported. That compares to 67% who said they consumed fast food in 2012. These customers have since shifted to healthier, more environmentally-friendly brands, the report said. 

China also saw a 21% drop in carbonated soft drinks consumption, a 15% fall in chewing gum consumption and 7% reduction in ice cream consumption.

The trend toward healthier food—half of respondents claimed to be focused on eating more nutritious food—is entwined with food safety concerns, which remain a source of worry throughout the Chinese population.

Almost 40% of consumers believed that billing food as “organic​” and “green​” was among the top ways to identify the safety of products, despite the fact no credible organic certification is in place in China. 

Some companies developing credible food certification standards have shown promise​,” the report said. 

For example, in 2009, Olé became one of the first supermarkets to focus on selling organic and imported foods​.” 

The fortunes of Chinese fast-food chains seem to have taken a dive in recent years, especially when KFC and Pizza Hut, owned by Yum! Brands, were rocked in 2014 after being embroiled in a tainted meat scandal, and last year, when the Chinese government began implementing a sweeping food safety policy. Hitherto, consumers had seen Western brands as cleaner, safer alternatives to local options. 

Featuring responses by 10,000 Chinese consumers across 44 cities, the survey took place between September and November 2015.

DSM to expand hydrocolloids business in China 

Ingredients supplier DSM is planning two major plant expansions in China to boost its gellan gum and pectin capacities. 


The Dutch multination will also establish a global innovation centre for hydrocolloids adjacent to the gellan facility in Zhejiang province. Both expansions are expected to be completed in 2016, while the innovation centre should open in the third-quarter of 2017.

Naturally fermented gellan gum plays a critical role as a stabilising and texturising agent in many foods and beverages. The expansion of DSM’s current gellan plant in Tongxiang is the result of increasing domestic demand for a reliable supply of the ingredient. 

Pectins, meanwhile, are used in a wide variety of applications such as jams, confectionery, dairy drinks, yoghurts and nutritional supplements. 

Increased demand for the ingredient in China is largely being driven by consumers’ the rising popularity of natural and healthy foods and beverages. The pectin expansion in the Andre Pectin facility in Yantai, Shandong province, will continue to strengthen DSM’s supply of pectin with superior qualities, the company said. 

"With these significant investments, we complete another strategic milestone to increase capacities and tremendously boost our hydrocolloids innovation competence​,” said Xiangwei Gong, global director of the DSM hydrocolloids business unit. 

These steps are an integral part of DSM’s strategic roadmap for hydrocolloids, and further demonstrate our firm commitment to be the fastest growing and one of the most important global hydrocolloids players​.”

Chinese pork prices surpass five-year peak

Chinese pork prices increased by 48% April compared to the same month last year. The growth surpassed the peaks seen in September 2011, and have been driven by falling domestic production and increased domestic demand. 


China culled almost 100m hogs and 10m sows after the pork industry saw massive over-expansion from 2011-13—a period which also brought reduced profits—at a time which coincided with an increase in the price of maize, the the main feed grain in China. 

The result of this action was responsible for a 6.5% drop in domestic pork production last year, to 53m tonnes, according to commodities analyst Mintec. 

Due to falling domestic production, Chinese pork imports have been growing, with those from the European Union in the first-quarter of this year totalling 286,100 tonnes—up 93% versus the same period last year. Further sharp increases have also been seen in imports from non-EU countries. 

On May 5, the Beijing region released 3.05m kilos of frozen pork to the market with the aim of alleviating current high prices.

Related topics Policy Food safety Meat China East Asia

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