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In response, the government introduced reforms that addressed a patchwork of imprecise and out-of-date standards, promised stepped-up food chain supervision from farm to fork and scrapped inspection exemptions for “famous brands.” But since the government doesn’t release detailed data about outbreaks of food-related illness, or product recalls, it’s hard to chart progress.

The latest wave in media coverage has zeroed in on parts of the fast growing food industry.

In early March, state broadcaster China Central Television ran a segment on its “Weekly Quality Report” show revealing that pork from Henan Shuanghui, the country’s largest meat producer, contained the banned drug clenbuterol.

After the news broke, Shenzhen-listed Shuanghui’s shares plunged 10 percent and the government ordered nationwide inspections of pork to ferret out other stocks tainted with the drug, which speeds up the conversion of fat to muscle, producing leaner meat but that can cause health problems for humans. Henan authorities also announced they had detained 95 suspects for manufacturing, selling or using clenbuterol.

A similar hidden camera report on another CCTV channel a month later revealed how a steamed bun factory in Shanghai was taking expired bread, mixing it with food coloring and sweeteners and repackaging it. The Shanghai Shenglu food plant was closed, five Shenglu managers detained and a districtwide inspection was ordered as a result.

Provincial media have catalogued pesticide-tainted leeks in Qingdao, the coastal resort city famous for its Tsingtao beer, and bean sprouts soaked in chemicals to make them grow fatter and appear fresher in the northeastern province of Liaoning.

Caixin Media, one of China’s most daring media outlets, ran a story about cadmium-tainted rice in February, citing researchers at Nanjing Agricultural University who estimated that as much as 10 percent of China’s rice could be tainted with the poisonous metal.

Caixin’s opinion desk editor, Yang Zheyu, said it went out without a hitch though they did get some “pressure” afterward.

“We didn’t have a lot of pressure, but there was some,” Yang said. “It’s not convenient for me to go into specifics about that, but our report got out and that was our goal, so we were satisfied.”