Food firms pledge better quality

Updated: 2007-11-26 10:20

Representatives from nearly 130 Chinese food enterprises, who are in Beijing for an international food security forum scheduled for November 26-27, vowed on Sunday to improve quality control.

In a written pledge, they promised to strengthen monitoring throughout the production process, resist using substandard raw materials, improve management and share quality-assurance experience and technology.

Another 300 or so domestic food companies joined the pledge by fax or e-mail.

China has about 448,000 food production and processing companies, which generated total output value of 1.28 trillion yuan (US$173 billion) in the first half of this year, up 29.9 percent year-on-year.

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The producers' pledge followed government efforts to improve quality standards, which cover seafood, eggs, vegetables, toothpaste and toys.

In recent months, Chinese industries have been the focus of numerous reports about substandard products, especially food. The scandals have included vegetables containing pesticide residue, fish contaminated with suspected carcinogens and eggs tainted with the industrial dye Sudan Red.

In response to the reported scandals, the Chinese government introduced a new recall system this past summer, began a four-month national product quality campaign and issued a measure that requires labeling of all food exports with an inspection and quarantine symbol.

During the campaign, 626 criminal cases involving 774 suspects were filed over substandard food and drug products, according to the State Council, China's cabinet.

At the end of last month, the State Council gave in-principle approval to a draft law on food safety to address "weak points" in food production, processing, delivery, storage and sales.

Ahead of the approval, China and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) issued a joint statement, vowing to strengthen cooperation in food safety, promote food trade and protect consumers' rights.

The government also brought domestic and foreign reporters on visits to food, toy and drug manufacturers to examine product quality.

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