Implications of Shuanghui Takeover of Smithfield to Food Safety

Gestation_crates_5In late May, it was announced that Shuanghui International, a Hong Kong-based company was to take over Smithfield Food. The deal was worth 4.7 billion dollars, currently marking it the biggest takeover by the Chinese government. Smithfield Food Company is based in Virginia and has been known for supplying precooked hams. The acquisition of the company by China is partly accounted for by the increasing pork demand in China. Currently, the country is the top pork consumer across the world. Concerns have been raised concerning the impact that this takeover will pose on food safety. The food safety concerns are with respect to not only the United States, but also China.

Following the announcement and food safety concerns, Smithfield records and Shuanghui are now under public scrutiny. The records of Smithfield have been of great concern with a greater focus put on utilization of pig feed additives. According to the company, the role of such additives is to stimulate the growth of lean muscles in pigs. Some studies have shown that these additives have a negative effect on people consuming pork and its products. In the year 2011, there was a scandal revolving around Shuanghui when an illegal steroid, clenbuterol was detected in the company’s meat products. Meanwhile, Smithfield is trying to phase out the use of ractopamine in the products produced. Although ractopamine drug is legal in the United States, other international bodies such as the European Union have banned it. The drug is also illegal in China.

All in all, this scrutiny is unnecessary. Instead, the country needs to focus on the control and structure of the entire agricultural industry. There should be a stricter monitoring of the quality of food and practices of animal rearing. Considering the size of Smithfield, and the food safety concerns raised, the deal needs to be reviewed carefully prior to making the final decision.