China, which has seen a string of food safety scares in recent years, is likely to experience similar problems in the future due to the country's vast size, a top official was quoted Tuesday as saying.
The comments by senior health ministry official Su Zhi came after authorities seized tonnes of milk powder tainted with melamine, the chemical responsible for the deaths of six babies in 2008, in at least three provinces.
Advertisement"With such a huge territory and population in China, it's hard to avoid all food safety threats and to put all unscrupulous businessmen under scrutiny," Su was quoted by the China Daily as saying at a food safety forum.
Su pledged that the government would investigate every possible breach of food safety regulations and punish those responsible for wrongdoing that could endanger the health of the country's 1.3 billion people.
He refused to say whether the tainted products seized in recent days were leftovers from the 2008 scandal, which caused 300,000 babies to fall ill and rocked the country's dairy industry, the report said.
Melamine is used to make plastics but has been widely and illegally added to dairy products to give the appearance of higher protein content.
In 2008, the toxic chemical was found in the products of 22 Chinese dairy companies. The discovery led to huge worldwide recalls of Chinese dairy products.
Melamine ingestion can cause kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
A total of 21 people were convicted for their roles in the 2008 scandal, and two were executed.
China's government has repeatedly said that all tainted products were seized and destroyed after the scandal and that there was no further public health threat, but reports of tainted items have continued to trickle out.
Authorities recently seized 76 tonnes of contaminated milk powder, state media reported last week. Two officials from the dairy company at the centre of the latest find were detained.