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Food Safety Highly Concerned
As the era of food shortages has disappeared, the Chinese people show great concern for life quality, including food and nutrition. Highly nourishing vegetables and fruit have become an integral part of the daily diet. Yet, experts warn that people should be very cautious in eating them as more and more food are becoming contaminated by pollution.

Reacting to increasing food scares over the past few years, such as wax-polished rice, poisoned melon seeds, growth hormones in animal feed, and chemical residues beyond the given range, the Ministry of Agriculture has decided to launch a market access system this year for farm produce to guarantee food safety and safeguard consumers’ rights and lives.

According to Director Liu Zhenwei of the Economic Information Department of the ministry, the system will control farm-produce quality by strictly supervising farming fields and markets. The system is to be introduced on a trial basis first in Beijing, Tianjin, Shanghai, and Shenzhen.

This year, the Ministry of Agriculture will formulate and issue the standards and criteria for the production of farm produce and adopt them first in 715 fields. The system aims to crack down on those who make fortunes by illegally providing unhealthy and poisoned food. The country will establish 20-30 new quality-inspection and control centers and authorize 25 more ministerial-level centers. The preparation for the establishment of quality authentication centers for livestock products, veterinary medicine, and animal feed is also well under way.

The system, in the opinion of experts, is beneficial in a long run not only for farmers but also for farm produce salesmen, although it poses many restrictions. Lack of assurance in certain goods will reduce buyer enthusiasm and lead to a business decline. Introducing stricter controls, however, will mean that the overall consumption of the goods will rise and bring larger profits to business owners, once buyers have gained confidence in the goods.

The smooth implementation of this system, however, calls for the joint efforts of various departments including quality control, health department, environmental protection, and transportation.

(CIIC 03/29/2001)

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