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Official: Reports of dumpling sabotage at Chinese factory "subjective guesswork"
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07:54, February 14, 2008

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Reports that dissatisfied Chinese workers deliberately contaminated dumplings sickening 10 Japanese are "mere subjective guesswork", China's quality watchdog said here on Wednesday.

On Tuesday, Japanese wire service Kyodo said the food poisoning in Japan caused by China-made frozen dumplings was likely committed by a person or persons with a grudge against the management.

"Local police confirmed that they found nothing unusual in the producing process," Wei Chuanzhong, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) deputy chief, told a news conference.

Hebei Province dumpling-maker Tianyang Food Plant has been exporting to Japan for 10 years and the Chinese workers are very friendly to the country, he said.

Moreover, salaries at the company are much higher than the local average, Wei said. He added since the interest of the workers was closely tied to the Japanese importer there was no reason for them to sabotage, Wei said.

Li Changjiang, AQSIQ head, led an investigation team to the company on Tuesday and found no loopholes in raw material purchasing and dumpling production, consistent with the Japanese's conclusion, he said.

Earlier this month, Japanese investigators said they had not detected any abnormality in the Tianyang Food Plant after a half-day inspection tour of the company.

China hopes the two parties could form a joint team to conduct a thorough investigation on all possible processes, Wei said. He added that, so far, Japan had not provided China with any samples of the dumplings that sickened the Japanese consumers.

No vomit samples, test reports or related evidence were provided either, he said.

Japanese media reported 10 people fell ill in December and January after consuming frozen meat dumplings produced by Tianyang Food Plant.

Japanese authorities found the insecticide methamidophos in the vomit of those poisoned and in food packages at their houses.

But tests showed the rest of the dumplings from the same batches sold in Japan, totaling more than 2,000 packages, were safe. So were all the other products made by the Chinese company.

When answering questions about food safety during the upcoming Olympics in Beijing, Wei said China had established a sound and efficient food safety monitoring system for the Games.

Beijing has taken a series measures to ensure food safety, including setting up a back-tracking system and a monitoring network, Wei said.

AQSIQ will also strengthen checkups on imported food and tourists will have healthy and tasty meals in China, he said.

During a four month nationwide campaign on food safety and product quality last year, China checked 16,000 raw material bases for export foods and returned or destroyed 168 batches of illegal or substandard meat, fruit and other products, he added.

Wei urged China and Japan to establish a long-term cooperation mechanism on food safety as soon as possible to promote the healthy development of trade and the economy.

China, Japan's largest trading partner, is the second biggest food supplier to Japan after the United States.

Japan is China's third largest trading partner. Trade between the two countries hit 236 billion U.S. dollars in 2007, an annual increase of 13.9 percent, according to official figures.

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