China gets tough with substandard foodstuffs

Updated: 2007-07-14 02:40

Safeguarding food safety has been made the top priority of China's industrial and commercial departments, with nearly 5,800 tons of substandard foods recalled in the first half of the year.

Zhou Bohua, director of the State Administration of Industry and Commerce, said that fake and low-quality food detected in 34,400 cases involved an aggregate value of 67.7 million yuan (8.9 million U.S. dollars).

Up to 63,600 entities without business licenses were penalized in the first half of the year while another 2,207 had their licenses revoked for failing to meet quality standards.

A total of 3,191 counterfeit hideouts were smashed.

Zhou said staff had stepped up supervision of pork to prevent adulterated pork, pork from pigs which died of disease or other kinds of substandard pork from entering markets.

Rural areas and transit routes will be the focus of future supervision, he said.

In an interview with Xinhua, Li Yuanping, director of the Import and Export Bureau of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said that China, the world's major food exporter, has made food safety a top concern.

"We have put in place a monitoring system which covers plantation, breeding farms and production bases. Only raw materials that meet standards can be used," he said.

In response to the health scare sparked by substandard food items ranging from tainted wheat gluten for pet food to catfish containing antibiotics, Li said that the government has thoroughly investigated each case.

"All of them are exceptional cases," he said, citing an official figure that more than 99 percent of China's exports are up-to-standard.

"There is no such thing as zero risk. In term of food safety, it's impossible for any country to make 100 percent of their foodstuff safe," he said. "The country should not be put on trial because of the problems of a particular company. China-made products should not be labeled as substandard just because of a few bad producers."

Lin Wei, deputy director of the bureau said that China would adopt the severest measures to punish company culprits, including blacklisting them and imposing an export ban.

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