China's Ministry of Health on Thursday urged local authorities to strengthen food safety measures during the Spring Festival holidays, which starts on Feb. 18.
Local health authorities must launch inspections and supervision of restaurants and food markets, and identify and eliminate potential risks of food poisoning as soon as possible, said the ministry in a statement.
The Spring Festival is a traditional Chinese holiday when people celebrate the beginning of lunar New Year and enjoy family reunions.
Meanwhile, as the new semester is beginning in late February, the ministry called on food safety inspections in schools.
Training on hygiene and food safety should be given to school canteen staffs and intensive measures should be taken to minimize food poisoning incidents, said the ministry.
In the last quarter of last year, 4,922 people suffered food poisoning, a rise of 42.3 percent compared with the same period in 2005.
The ministry explained the causes of the increase, saying the direct network reporting was improved both in scale and quality, and temperatures in most parts of China were higher than 2005, which resulted in food spoiling faster.
(Xinhua News Agency February 2, 2007)