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Stringent checks on products assured
By Xiao Ma (China Daily)
Updated: 2006-03-16 05:41

The inspection of products affecting people's lives such as food, drinking water and building materials will be more stringent, quality supervision officials assured consumers yesterday.

Speaking on the annual World Consumer Rights Day, Vice-Minister Pu Changcheng of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ), urged people to report more cases of poor-quality goods to stop violators from doing any harm.

"Each year, we check products millions of times, but I think the general public could help us more," Pu said in an online forum hosted by the Xinhua News Agency website.

"We hope consumers and businesses provide more tip-offs, and we stand ready to crack down on any violations," he said.

Though the government has been paying increased attention to product quality over the years, he said, problems still persist.

At a seminar hosted by the State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC), which oversees consumer complaints, SAIC Vice-Minister Wang Dongfeng disclosed that between 2001 and 2005, nationwide bureaus of industry and commerce alone unearthed 730,000 cases of making or selling inferior goods worth 9.08 billion yuan (US$1.12 billion).

Wang noted that in the same period, they handled 3.61 million complaints from consumers with 90 per cent being resolved and discovered 802,000 cases where consumers' rights were infringed upon.

In the food sector, Pu said, 70-80 per cent of the plants have fewer than 10 workers each, and "these small units pose health and safety problems."

The usage of forbidden additives ranging from cases of Sudan Red in food and formaldehyde in beers has also been rampant, Pu said, blaming some enterprises that do not follow State guidelines.

As for vegetables, Pu said, it is better to rid of pollution at the source by asking farmers not to use banned pesticides.

Wang Hong, deputy chief of GAQSIQ's food production department, added that the central government is paying close attention to food safety; and legislation on the matter is in the pipeline.

Pu said one area of focus for his administration is to tighten checks on drinking water in rural areas, noting that there could be problems in supplies from wells and rivers.

Liu Honsheng, deputy chief of GAQSIQ's supervision department, said monitoring will be increased on building materials, fertilizers, farm machines and cement sold in rural areas to safeguard farmers' interests.

As urban people become increasingly aware of consumer rights, fake goods are flowing into the rural market, posing a threat to the country's 750 million farmers.

A survey conducted by the Ministry of Commerce among 10,000 farmers last year showed at least 75 per cent of them had bought fake goods, Xinhua reported.

(China Daily 03/16/2006 page1)

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