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Testing upgraded for food safety
By Cui Ning (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-12-07 22:15

Methods for testing food hygiene have improved much in the country, helping minimize potential diseases and ensure food safety, experts revealed at a news conference yesterday in Beijing.

A typical example is a newly developed bird-flu test method. Using it, scientists can shorten testing on poultry from the previous 21 days to just four hours.

The test played an important role this spring in preventing the bird flu from spreading to additional poultry and to humans, said Chen Junshi, a nutrition researcher at the China Centre for Disease Control.

The test has been used in inspection and quarantine agencies in the provinces of Guangdong, Liaoning, Jilin and Shandong, and cities of Shenzhen, Zhuhai, Shanghai, Tianjin and Beijing, to help examine poultry.

Dioxin pollution in food is not rare in some regions of the country and testing on dioxin is difficult, according to Chen.

Over the past two years, Chinese scientists have completed a system for testing dioxin which has passed international evaluation.

They have also developed testing methods for examining possible pollution residue in tea, rice and fruit juice, and testing methods for examining food pollutants, pesticides and poison in living things.

East China's Jiangsu Province has introduced these testing methods to inspect rice, tea, pork, eggs and milk products.

Fujian Province has selected 14 enterprises to use the testing methods and developed some tea and vegetable products with trademark protection that have gained wide acclaim from residents, said Chen.

"Ensuring food safety is a long process, and sustainable work needs tough policies from government departments," Chen said.

He said research findings can offer scientific basis for policy-makers and technological support for better testing food hygiene.

Moreover, scientists have built a network of monitoring food pollutants.

The network has been listed in the food safety co-operation plan between China and Germany.

Commissioned last year by Codex Alimentarius Commission, an international authoritative organization devoted to food safety, scientists drafted a technological regulation for reducing toxins in tree-born fruits.

The regulation was adopted at the commission's conference this March.

According to Wei Yimin, a researcher with the Chinese Academy of Agricultural Science, China has approximately 1,050 kinds of technological benchmarks for testing food hygiene.

Some 150 of the 1,050 kinds have been improved in accordance with international standards to better regulate main varieties of food in the country.

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