37 dairy firms closed as China demands better monitoring of milk

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China on Friday shut down 37 dairy producers in Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, as the companies failed to acquire new dairy business permits as the country ramps up efforts to ensure food safety.

Ding Yong, food safety official with the Inner Mongolia Quality Inspection Bureau, said another 10 firms were also warned of closure if they failed to meet the necessary requirements in the next 15 days.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine required all the country's dairy firms and baby formula makers in January to apply for new production certificates before the end of March.

Under the new regulation, dairy makers must have testing equipment that can monitor vitamin and protein levels, as well as detect illegal additives such as melamine.

Ding said many small dairy producers had been forced out of the market, because they were unable to afford the testing equipment and other related facilities.

China's dairy industry has been haunted by reoccurring tainted milk scandals since 2008 when dangerously high levels of melamine were detected in baby formula.

In order to restore consumer confidence, Chinese authorities have beefed up food safety supervision on dairy producers.

Chen Xiaohong, vice minister of health, said last week that by February 2011, China had discovered 2,334 tones of "problematic" milk powder.

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