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Chinese premier urges tightened food safety supervision


08:20, May 15, 2013

BEIJING, May 14 (Xinhua) -- Chinese Premier Li Keqiang urged strict market supervision and harsh penalties to ensure food safety so that no more trust crisis as the one ensuing a milk scandal would ever happen again.

Li made the remarks on a nationwide tele-conference held on Monday about the functional transformation of the institutions under the State Council, or the cabinet.

At the meeting, Li called for the government to delegate power to lower levels, but stressed that the government must strengthen supervision over the market while delegating power.

He added that market supervision should focus on matters that people complain of most and those that might wreck havoc on the economic and social development, such as food safety.

Li said recent scandals involving adulterated mutton have aggravated public concern over food safety, and a tough approach must be maintained toward such violations.

"Perpetrators must pay such a high price that they can not afford," he said.

"Although we have a tight budget, we should invest enough in strengthening supervision measures at the grassroots level," the premier said.

A milk scandal in 2008 prompted Chinese parents to loose faith in local formula brands and hoard foreign ones.

Sanlu Group, a manufacturer based in north China's Shijiazhuang, was found to have sold milk powder contaminated with melamine, an industrial compound used to create plastic which makes the milk appear protein rich. Six infants died from consuming the tainted powder, resulting in a scandal that led to jail terms for local officials, as well as raised food safety concerns.

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