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China to enhance investigation of food safety incidents

2011-02-16 15:04

BEIJING - China's health authorities Tuesday vowed to improve their response to food safety incidents.

The ministry would issue a protocol "as early as possible" on how to respond to and investigate food safety incidents, said Vice Health Minister Chen Xiaohong at a national meeting on food safety in Beijing.

It would also provide better training for officials and professionals working in the field, Chen said.

Last year, the ministry initiated investigations into several incidents such as milk powder that allegedly caused infant girls to grow breasts and illegal soup additives by restaurants.

In the milk powder case, the investigation found no evidence that Synutra International's products had caused the problem. Media reports said the company was the victim of dirty tricks by a rival firm.

In addition, the ministry blacklisted 48 substances illegally added to food and 22 misused food additives last year.

The ministry would include projects related to food safety in state-sponsored health programs giving free medical services to the public in next five years, Health Minister Chen Zhu said at the same meeting.

But Chen did not give details about what kind of projects they will be.

Under the current six state health programs, the government provides free cataract surgery for the needy, free breast and cervical examinations for rural women, free hepatitis B vaccines, free folic acid pills for rural women, new cooking stoves in rural homes to prevent fluorine poisoning caused by coal stoves as well as modern toilets for rural residents.

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