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Safe Food And Drugs
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Bad things can become good when they are used as reminders of problems we otherwise ignore.

That is what the State Council and other government departments are doing after some of our exported food and drugs failed safety requirements.

Officials from the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) revealed at a press conference yesterday that detailed rules will come out soon to tighten supervision of the entire process from the purchasing of raw materials to the production and distribution of drugs and food.

It is good that the new rules will further specify the responsibilities of the producers and watchdogs.

For example, supervisors from the SFDA are mandated to conduct on-the-spot inspections of production assembly lines to check whether the production follows the right procedure and to seal accounts, financial documents and contracts when they do find problems.

The SFDA rules will further clarify that producers must recall their products that are found with quality or safety problems and they must shoulder the cost of doing so.

Local government leaders are also bound with specific responsibilities for food and drug safety. Those who fail to perform their duties will face severe penalties according the new rules.

We do have enough reason to believe that these new rules, along the huge sum of investment in the building of various types of labs to facilitate more effective supervision, will considerably improve the safety of food and drugs.

But we should never forget the notorious collaboration between some watchdogs and those bad drug producers, which has been imprinted on the SFDA and the reputation of our products, and neither should we forget that most relevant rules were there when the dirty dealings took place.

New document issued by the State Council and the rules that will be released by the SFDA are undoubtedly intended to plug the loopholes left over by related laws and regulations.

But there is still much to be desired in our supervision mechanism. The fact that most problematic food exports were by producers that were either not qualified for making food for export or took advantage of the loopholes in supervision and quarantine check speaks volumes.

Rome was not built in a day, and neither will a sound supervision mechanism of food and drugs.

(China Daily August 9, 2007)

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