Stakeholder perspectives on infant formula safety governance in China: a decade after the melamine crisis

Ronghui Yang*, Klasien Horstman, Bart Penders

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


This paper critically engages with dynamics of the Chinese food safety governance infrastructure following the melamine crisis. It presents a qualitative analysis of 16 in-depth stakeholder interviews in Hunan, Hubei, and Henan. We reveal tensions between a segmented model of governance and a centralized model, between a centralized top-down model and stakeholder participation, and between a public model and a private, decentral market where corporate reputation must result in transparency and trust. Stakeholders also see gaps between ideals of inclusive, transparent, and participatory governance, and effective problem-solving. Governance of food safety in China, even when targeting inclusion and public accountability, remains heavily dependent on the central state as a pivotal actor.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)70-88
Number of pages19
JournalFood Culture & Society
Issue number1
Early online date24 Mar 2021
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • China
  • milk
  • food safety
  • accountability
  • governance
  • risk communication
  • risk assessment

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