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Closer Eye on Food Safety
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China will step up surveillance over the safety of farm products with the nation's first law on farm products safety expected to take effect on November 1, deputy agriculture minister Niu Dun said on Sunday.

"We must greatly strengthen the routine surveillance and spot check of farm products, publicize the results to the public timely and boost the safety awareness of farm products growers, processors and traders," he said at a promotion ceremony for the new law in Beijing's suburban Shunyi District.

Safety management is an important part of China's agricultural modernization plan and is critical to boosting the international competitiveness of the country's farm products, the deputy minister said.

Although there has been some improvement in farm products safety generally, reports of unsafe products are still quite common in China.

The latest example is that involving hairy crabs exported to Taiwan. Taiwan health officials said they detected a carcinogen in one shipment despite claims from crab farmers that the crabs were safe for consumption.

Niu said China has already set up a nationwide network of quality inspection agencies, including 12 at national level, 311 at ministerial, and 1,780 at provincial, municipal and country levels.

The government plans to make the network more competent and efficient over the next five years, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 23, 2006)

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