Official questions possibility of food safety in China

By Shan Juan (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-07-13 07:24
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BEIJING - A senior health official said on Monday that more breaches in food safety, such as the latest melamine-tainted milk scandal in Northwest China, are likely given China's size and unbalanced development.

Su Zhi, director of the health supervision bureau under the Ministry of Health, made the remarks at an international food safety forum, held by the ministry and an EU delegation to China, after more melamine-tainted milk products were recently seized in at least three provinces.

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Su pledged that the Chinese government will look into every food safety incident and punish those responsible.

However, he refused to comment on whether the latest seized dairy products were leftovers of the melamine-tainted milk powder that killed six babies and sickened 300,000 people in 2008 - product that should have been destroyed.

"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 said.

Those comments will not help restore public confidence in domestic dairy products, especially baby formula, or allow people to put their trust in authorities to ensure food safety, said Wang Dingmian, former chairman of the Guangdong Provincial Dairy Association.

He urged authorities to continue their efforts to oversee the safety and quality of milk products.

In February, the government launched a national 10-day overhaul in the dairy industry and vowed to track down and destroy all leftover dairy products from the 2008 scandal.

During that investigation, 22 domestic dairy companies were found to have sold products containing the toxic chemical, which is used to make plastics and is associated with kidney stones in infants.

"The short-term solution didn't work well," Wang said, citing the latest occurrence of such products.

In response, the national food safety office said on Friday that it would restart a nationwide overhaul of milk powder, including its source, manufacturing, storage and sales.