China bans firms from exporting substandard goods

Updated: 2007-07-20 20:01

China said Friday it had shut down several firms at the heart of food and drug safety scares, its latest move to clean up those industries and salvage its reputation as a reliable exporter.

Li Changjiang, minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, speaks to the media during a press briefing at the State council office in Beijing, China Friday, July 20, 2007. China's product safety watchdog said Friday that it had revoked the business licenses of several firms at the heart of food and drug safety scares and banned them from exporting their products. The actions by the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine is the latest in a series of moves by Beijing to try to clean up its drug and food industries, which have been increasingly under the international spotlight after substandard Chinese goods have been rejected around the world as dangerous. [AP]

Li Changjiang, head of the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said officials were focusing on stricter market access requirements for companies, conducting random checks and beefing up product testing.

But he stressed that China was not the only one with problems, citing comments by World Health Organization Director-General Margaret Chan this week that the agency receives about 200 reports of food safety problems every month from its 193 member states.

"This shows that food safety is not an issue of a particular country or region," Li said at a news conference.

In a statement released Friday, Li's administration said it had pulled the business license of Taixing Glycerin Factory, which has been accused of exporting diethylene glycol - a thickening agent used in antifreeze - and fraudulently passing it off as 99.5 percent pure glycerin.

The "TD glycerin" mix of 15 percent diethylene glycol, or DEG, and other substances eventually ended up in Panamanian medicines that killed at least 51 people.

"Its workshop and facilities have been closed down by the Jiangsu province and its business license revoked," the statement said. It was the first time action against the company had been publicly announced.

The statement also detailed punishments against Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Co. Ltd. and Binzhou Futian Biology Technology Co. Ltd., the two companies linked to melamine-tainted wheat gluten blamed for the deaths of dozens of dogs and cats in North America.

Xuzhou Anying, also in Jiangsu province, had its license revoked, its offices and workshops closed, and its right to import and export taken away, it said.

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