CHINA> Regional
Xinjiang cracking down on illegal food additives
Updated: 2008-12-16 17:29

URUMQI -- Authorities in China's Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region are examining illegal additives in grain and cooking oil to improve food safety in the wake of the milk scandal.

The campaign, launched Monday across the landlocked region in the country's northwesternmost area, will strictly supervise production, transportation and marketing processes to prevent the use of illegal or excessive amount of additives, said Huang Jianzhuang, chairman of Xinjiang's grain industry association.

Additives including bleaching agents, usually used in flour and rice, and other illegal substances are prohibited. Food manufacturers and retailers who violate the rules will face business suspension or other punishment.

Inspection teams, comprised of experts and officials of the regional administrations of grain, industry and commerce, food and drug, and the grain industry association, will soon leave for cities and counties.

The initiative is expected to benefit grassroots consumers in some 10,000 urban communities and 9,584 villages, who could be affected by unsafe food products, according to Xinjiang's food and drug administration.

"The milk scandal showed us that the grassroots population is vulnerable, so we decided to place especially small plants and shops under examination," said Huang.

The anti-additive campaign came after nine departments, including the Ministry of Health and the State Food and Drug Administration, launched a four-month nationwide investigation last week of illegal additives in food in the wake of the melamine-tainted baby formula scandal.

The large-scale investigation will focus on protein-rich foods and products made by small food factories as they are often under-supervised and do not have internal quality control systems.

The nine authorities jointly issued a blacklist Monday, banning the use of 17 nonfood substances and ten additives.

China has about 500,000 food processing firms, 70 percent of which are small with less than ten employees.