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Nongfu Spring to sue over quality claims (2)

By WANG XIAODONG  (China Daily)

08:08, May 07, 2013

The chairman neither confirmed nor denied a report by The Beijing Times on Monday that production at Nongfu Spring's barreled drinking water factory in Beijing had been suspended, on orders from the capital's bureau for quality supervision, inspection and quarantine.

However, Zhong said the factory will not produce barreled drinking water — water stored in barrels that usually have a capacity of 19 liters — in Beijing in the future, although no quality issues have been found since the factory opened in Beijing in 2008.

He said inaccurate reports had caused big troubles for the company in the past month, and have forced the company to quit producing barreled drinking water in Beijing.

Qu Sheng, a dealer in barreled water in Beijing's Haidian district, earlier told China Daily that he had not sold Nongfu Spring-branded water for half a month.

"About two weeks ago, Nongfu Spring informed me they could not sell me barreled water any longer, without giving me any reason," he said. "But all other brands of barreled water are being sold normally."

Meanwhile, experts said a lack of unified standards to regulate bottled water not only caused confusion, but also made it difficult to put enterprises under supervision.

Dong Jinshi with the International Food Packaging Association suggested a unified national standard formulated to cover all mandatory indexes of bottled water.

Bottled-water companies in China adopt a variety of water standards, including national standards made by different ministries; standards made by local governments; and those made by the companies themselves.

This creates confusion among the public and makes it difficult for the food authorities to supervise quality, Dong said.

There are four national standards on quality and sanitation of bottled water in China, according to China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment.

China has more than 5,000 standards on food quality and hygiene, which were formulated by different government departments, and some of them overlapped while some contradicted one another.

"The National Health and Family Planning Commission is speeding up its consolidation of standards on bottled water, and new national standards will be published," the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment.

In addition, clarification and consolidation of 5,000 food standards will be completed before the end of 2015, the center said.

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