Special team to battle food crime

11:05, May 27, 2011      

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Commerce administrative officers inspect packaged roast ducks sold from a store near Beijing railway station on May 18. Provided to China Daily

Police in the capital are likely to set up a special team to crack down on food safety crimes amid growing public anger at the rising number of scandals involving tainted food, according to a senior local official.

Ji Lin, vice-mayor of Beijing and director of the city's food safety commission, said the hinterland between the urban and rural areas has become the production base for suppliers of unfit food and the new team will target such locations.

"Beijing police are willing to participate in food safety supervision and the police force needs to establish a special team to address major food safety crimes," he said.

The vice-mayor said Beijing is also conducting research into how best to curb the use of illegal food additives.

"Beijing is a city where a large amount of food is consumed and more than 70 percent of it is transported from other provinces, so it's likely that food safety problems from elsewhere in the country will also flow into the city," Jin said.

"There are also many low-end factories, small workshops, vendors and restaurants scattered all over the city, especially in suburban and rural areas."

Ji said the police department wants to take coordinated action to help ensure food is safe.

"We will intensify efforts and take unified action to address food safety issues and, meanwhile, we should dig out the secret and illegal practices within the industry and bring in effective regulatory measures in a timely manner," Ji said.

Zi Xiangdong, a press officer from the Beijing municipal public security bureau, told China Daily on Thursday that it has not yet drawn up a detailed plan for the special food-safety task force.

"It's an ongoing and long-term campaign cracking down on crimes related to food safety, so it's necessary to build up a special police force," added Dai Peng, director of the criminal investigation department at the Chinese People's Public Security University.

He said there should also be effective connections between administrative authorities and law enforcement departments.

"Because, usually, it is the administrative authorities that first discover the clues and investigate the case before handing over the relevant evidence to the police and prosecuting department for the legal process," Dai explained.

Luo Yunbo, head of the food science and nutrition project institute at the China Agricultural University, said the public should have a scientific and rational attitude toward food safety incidents.

"There is no need for the public to panic. It's not food additives that cause health problems but illegal additives," he said.

Earlier this month, police in Chongqing set up the country's first dedicated team of detectives tasked with probing food and medical crimes.

"We will cooperate with the relevant government departments, such as the agricultural, health, food and drug administrations, to tackle the problem and gain experience from the crackdowns conducted across the country," Guo Weiping, vice-head of Chongqing municipal public security bureau, said at the inauguration ceremony of that new team.

Source: China Daily
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