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China's Crackdown on Food Safety is Far from Over, Says Official

by Venkatraman on September 18, 2007 at 6:32 PM
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China's Crackdown on Food Safety is Far from Over, Says Official

China's government vowed Tuesday to continue to crack down on shoddy and fake food products, but a top official cautioned the task was far from easy and problems remained unsolved.

We have "undertaken the heavy task of inspecting product quality and food safety, this task is arduous and the responsibility huge," said Zhou Bohua, the director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

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"As far as product quality and standards are concerned, there still exist problems in every part of the country," he told a press conference.

Zhou was speaking a month after China kicked off a campaign to restore confidence in consumer products at home and abroad, following a spate of safety scandals involving goods ranging from toys and tyres to seafood and toothpaste.
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The four-month campaign aims to strengthen inspection and monitoring efforts, and tighten production licensing and labelling requirements in order to overhaul the quality and safety of Chinese products, he said.

More than 187,000 food and product safety inspectors were inspecting 370,000 businesses and over 17,000 markets, he said.

The government would also solidify the campaign into a long-standing programme to ensure product quality and safety, he said.

In the first seven months of the year, Zhou said inspectors had shut down 9,098 unlicensed business operations and since June 2006 had found nearly 227 million yuan (30.3 million dollars) worth of fake, dangerous or shoddy products.

He refrained from discussing how his government would curb official corruption during the ongoing crackdown.

Corruption is widespread in China among officials, who often receive bribes in return for turning a blind eye to, or even sometimes participating in, illegal production.

The former head of the State Food and Drug Administration, Zheng Xiaoyu, was executed in July following his conviction for taking bribes to approve hundreds of medicines, some of which proved fatally dangerous.

Source: AFP
VEN/J
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