China targets dairy products, meat in food safety campaign for 2011

11:25, March 26, 2011      

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China has rolled out its annual working plan to beef up food safety in 2011, as more food safety scandals have entered media spotlight and aroused public concerns.

The plan was introduced by the General Office of the State Council, and published on the website of the Central People's Government,, on Friday.

According to the plan, China will specifically target dairy products, edible oils, health-promoting food, meat, food additives and alcohol in its food safety campaign this year.

The plan stressed ensuring food safety in those key categories by raising the benchmark for market entry, gradually phasing out unqualified producers and introducing an information-based tracing mechanism and credit system in those industries.

For the dairy industry, the plan requested the establishment of a unified national database of dairy product manufacturers and a system to verify relevant certificates.

It emphasized a request for a registration system to record all purchases of melamine, a prohibited food additive which has caused major scandals in the country's dairy industry since 2008.

The distribution of melamine-laced milk products has killed at least six infants and sickened 300,000 children across the country.

Chen Xiaohong, vice minister of the Ministry of Health, said that by February 2011, China had discovered 2,334 tones of "problematic" milk powder, and two people involved in milk scandal were sent to prison with life sentences.

Furthermore, the plan bans the use of clenbuterol in meat after a recent case involving the illegal additive in pork triggered public concern. The chemical, which is poisonous to humans if ingested, was added to pig feed to stop them from accumulating fat.

A subsidiary Shuanghui Group, China's largest meat processor, was exposed last Tuesday for using clenbuterol-contaminated pork in its meat products.

The plan also urged upgrading supervision over edible oils, cracking down on the production and sale of shoddy edible oils as well as cracking down on purchases made through illegal channels.

The plan mentioned "gutter oil," oil extracted from kitchen waste that was reportedly commonly used by small restaurants.

Additionally, China will move to eliminate food safety abuse that violates relevant laws and regulations, according to the plan.

China has investigated about 130,000 such cases, according to statistics reported by the Food Safety Commission Office under the State Council.

The plan also stressed the role of law enforcement in food safety. Severe punishments will be meted out to those who cover up food safety hazards and evade supervision. Those guilty of wrongful conduct in food safety supervision should also be held accountable, according to the plan.

It was the third annual working plan for food safety mapped out by the General Office of the State Council, which shows that the central government attached great importance to food safety and its resolve in keeping strict with this matter, according to a statement issued along with the working plan.

The statement also recalled an amendment made in February to the country's Criminal Law which imposes harsher punishments on offenders in food safety crimes.

The law, for the first time, stipulates that criminals may face capital punishment for committing food crimes resulting in death or other severe consequences.

Source: Xinhua

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