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China's farm products safe: official
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20:22, September 24, 2007

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Ten people have been arrested and almost 100 processing firms have been closed since China's agriculture authorities launched a crackdown on the illegal use of pesticides and animal feed additives.

Vice Agriculture Minister Gao Hongbin said on Monday that the government has strengthened inspections of farm produce nationwide.

No more than seven percent of Chinese vegetables and only two percent of meat products were failing Chinese quality standards, Gao said.

"More than 93 percent of the vegetables are safe in terms of pesticide residue and more than 98 percent of meat products are up to scratch concerning the remains of clenobuterol hydrochloride," Gao said in Beijing.

Clenobuterol hydrochloride is a drug some farmers used to feed pigs to develop more muscles before selling them. It has been abolished due to side effects to human heart.

The quality of Chinese farm produce had been improving over the years, he said.

The government had banned the illegal production, sale and use of five types of highly toxic pesticides, including methamidophos and parathion, he said. "We aim to confiscate and destroy all toxic pesticides.

"We also aim to bring all the wholesale markets in the large and medium-sized under quality surveillance," Gao said.

He said 479, or 71 percent of the 676 wholesale markets in cities were being monitored, 15 percentage points higher than before the nationwide quality inspection.

The agricultural authorities have inspected 73,000 firms and wholesale markets since the quality drive was launched last month, he said.

The authorities had investigated 8,111 cases and referred eight to prosecutors.

"Ten people were arrested, 95 firms that have no licenses were shut down and another six revoked of their licenses," he added.

Food safety has become a major public concern in China after a spate of food scares from parasite-infested snails to ducks and hens that were fed cancer-causing Sudan Red dye to make their egg yolks red.

Source: Xinhua

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