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Food safety struggle bearing fruit
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All legal food exports now bear inspection labels, and any illegally imported meat, fruit or waste materials in circulation has been either returned or destroyed, the top quality watchdog announced yesterday.


The CIQ (China Inspection and Quarantine) inspection mark signifies that the goods meet quality standards and should help foreign food importers distinguish certified Chinese food products from fake ones.


And the return or destruction of illegally imported products has helped keep the public safe, according to an announcement by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).


Both measures are part of the ongoing national campaign against unsafe food and substandard products, the announcement quoted AQSIQ Minister Li Changjiang as saying.


Li said the campaign, launched in late August, had "achieved good results".


Figures released yesterday show that by the end of last month, 80 percent of the country's food processing enterprises had received production licenses, and about 70 percent of the small food plants with less than 10 staff had committed to making safe products.


In addition, 70 percent of the raw material bases for export food products had been inspected, and 94 percent of the agricultural wholesale markets in big and medium sized cities had been brought under the observation of a monitoring system, according to the AQSIQ.


Li said he was confident of the campaign's success despite its demanding targets.


"Although the goals are difficult to achieve, we'll do our utmost to ensure a successful campaign," he was quoted as saying.


The four-month special campaign against poor product quality was launched in response to a series safety scares involving Chinese products worldwide. The campaign, which will run to the end of the year, sets 20 detailed goals, including 12 "100 percents".


For instance, 100 percent of food producers should be licensed; 100 percent of agricultural wholesale markets in cities must be monitored; 100 percent of suppliers of raw materials for exported products should be inspected; and 100 percent of agricultural products must be free of five types of strong pesticides.


Vice-Premier Wu Yi has described the campaign as a "special war" to protect the general public and to safeguard both the made-in-China label and the country's image.


Also yesterday, the AQSIQ posted a notice on its website saying the country had banned Canadian poultry because of an outbreak of bird flu there.


The notice, jointly issued with the Ministry of Agriculture, said the ban had come into effect on September 30, and that any shipments arriving in China would be destroyed or returned. The move followed similar bans by the United States and Japan.


The Canadian Food Inspection Agency said last month that a strain of avian influenza, or bird flu, had been confirmed at a large chicken farm in Regina, Saskatchewan.


(China Daily October 9, 2007)


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