Officials to be graded on how well they protect people's food

10:12, May 16, 2011      

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Local governments have introduced a range of measures to crack down on food safety violations in the wake of recent scandals.

Governments in the cities of Beijing and Shanghai and the provinces of Zhejiang and Guangdong have incorporated the local food safety situation into the evaluation of officials' work, according to a statement released on Saturday by the office of the food safety commission under the State Council.

"The attention and tightened supervision from local governments is a good sign. It will help control and prevent food safety problems in the country," said FanZhihong, a nutrition and food safety professor at China Agricultural University.

Much of the blame for banned additives being found recently in pigs was put at the feet of the watchdogs and supervisors for failing in their duty.

"However, the food safety problems should not only be blamed on the supervision from local officials," said Li Shuguang, a professor with the department of nutrition and food hygiene at the School of Public Health, FudanUniversity.

Li said that the origin of food safety problems should be discovered and solved before the supervision process.

"The government should also pay more attention to raising awareness among residents about food safety, and the harm banned food additives can do, as well as the basic means of telling whether food is safe or not," said Fan.

The provincial government of Jilin in Northeast China set up a 24-hour hotline for food safety inquires and complaints, and recruited 1,300 voluntary food safety supervisors to inspect possible problematic food in communities.

China's health authorities on Friday urged food producers to display on their packaging all additives used in their products and released a revised rule setting the national standard for the use of 2,314 additives.

Beijing now requires restaurants to inform customers about all food additives contained in their self-made beverages and food sauces by posting the lists on menus or other public places. Any additives should also be reported to supervisory departments.

The actions follow a series of scandals including steamed buns dyed with unidentified chemicals, the use of reclaimed cooking oil known as "gutter oil", "poisonous bean sprouts", "inked vermicelli" and "dyed peppers" in Chongqing municipality, Guangdong, Liaoning and Hunan provinces.

In one of the latest cases, police detained 96 people for producing, selling or using meat additives and confiscated more than 400 kilograms of clenbuterol, widely known as "lean meat powder", in Central China's Henan province.

Li Yao and Xinhua News Agency contributed to this story.

Source:China Daily
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