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Food firms set strict new safety standards
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The government will not shut down small food plants but will require them to meet strict safety standards during a four-month campaign against poor product quality, a leading quality administration official said yesterday.


Pu Changcheng, vice-minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said in an online interview at "Traditional snacks are usually produced at small food factories, most of which are in townships and cities.


"Instead of closing them, we will encourage them to promote traditional foods by meeting product safety standards."


While he praised traditional snacks in townships and cities, Pu said the producers had to meet several requirements.


"For example, they should only produce small food products, not processed ones like beverages and canned products."


All small food plants must be committed to making safe products and obtain an operator's license, Pu said.


Government statistics show that about 92 percent of small food plants, with less than 10 staff, had signed product safety commitment letters by the end of last month.


Additionally, up to 89 percent of the country's food processing companies had received production licenses since the four-month campaign was launched in early August.


The nationwide campaign, in response to a series of safety scares involving Chinese products worldwide, sets out 20 goals, including 12 "100 percents".


For instance, 100 percent of food producers should be licensed; 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.


In another development, China will revise 600 national standards for inspecting food by 2010 to meet international standards, an industry watchdog said yesterday.


"China's current food standard system is unreasonable ... Investigations conducted since 1986 have found that there are big problems with various inspection standards," Hao Yi, secretary-general of the National Food Industry Standardization Technology Commission, said in a statement posted on the administration's website.


He did not, however, provide details of how the standards will be revised.


(China Daily November 9, 2007)


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