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Guangzhou Cracks Down on Unsafe Food

Tough measures will be taken to ensure food safety from Monday - International Consumers Day - by the capital of south China's Guangdong Province.

Vice-Mayor Wang Xiaoling said yesterday that by implementing the Food Safety Project, producers of unsafe foods will be blacklisted and exposed online; and import channels, from overseas or elsewhere on the mainland, will cut off.

Wang said that the municipal authorities would keep a close watch on all aspects - from production, transportation, storage and sales - to ensure safety.

Food produced in places without special permit will have to show production and sanitation licences before they are allowed to enter the market.

Imports need permits issued by the import & export commodity inspection authorities.

The municipal authorities will evaluate and approve local producers as food suppliers which will deal directly with markets.

Livestock bred outside Guangzhou will not be allowed in without quarantine documents.

Well-equipped motor vehicles will be used to facilitate raids or routine inspections.

Food safety requires the municipal government to join forces with different departments including the bureaus of agriculture, commerce, quality inspection, sanitation, industry and commerce administration and environment protection, Wang said.

The whole project will be implemented over four years; and the emphasis this year will be on meats and vegetables.

And other types of food such as genetically modified (GM) foods will be in focus next year, she said.

GM foods, though not yet proven harmful to health, will be distinctly labeled so that consumers can make their own decision, the vice-mayor said.

"By fortifying the supervision and management of production and sales, the food safety project will further minimize the possibility of food poisoning and spread of epidemics," she noted.

Food poisoning has been greatly reduced and no serious cases have been reported in Guangzhou in the past few years.

According to Dai Kunfeng, director of the Municipal Quality Inspection Bureau, 15 types of food including rice, noodles, soy sauce, vinegar and oil will have to be officially labeled with "QS (quality safety)" before they are allowed for sale.

Food, once detected to be unsafe, will be removed from the shelves and sealed for storage; and related brands and producers will be blacklisted online while those with a good reputation will be recommended.

Official statistics indicate that the city's permanent population of more than 7.1 million and floating population of over 3 million consume 3,000 tons of grains, 200 tons of edible oil, 5,000 tons of vegetables, 1,000 tons of pork and 500 tons of fresh milk a day.

(China Daily March 12, 2004)

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