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Campaign Aims for Better Food Awareness

Quality inspection departments across the country are offering free consulting services at major department stores and supermarkets, to help promote food safety week.

Starting from Sunday, the six-day event is designed in part to raise the public's awareness of laws and regulations on food safety.

In an attempt to ensure food safety, China will establish a legal system to cover each link in the food industry chain, Sun Xianze, director general of the Food Safety Coordination Department under the State Food and Drug Administration, said earlier this month.

A separate system designed to monitor the credit records and management of companies that sell children's food will also be in place by next April.

According to Sun, some laws and regulations in food security are lagging behind the pace of reform.

"For instance, more than 10 departments are involved in food safety supervision, including agriculture, quality inspection, health, trade and commerce, and drug supervision," Sun said at a symposium on children's food industry management.

He said that now some powers have been shifted among agencies, regulations should also be updated with obligations and penalties for dereliction specified.

Unsafe food products have repeatedly eroded Chinese consumers' trust and health.

A recent inspection by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce in five provinces found that nearly one-third of children's foods such as biscuits, sweets and fried snacks failed to meet sanitation standards.

"Many factories persist in using illegal ingredients in food production," Ministry of Health researcher Zhang Zhiqiang said at the symposium, even after a shoddy milk powder incident last year in Fuyang, east China's Anhui Province, sent shock waves across the country and led to a large-scale inspection of milk products.

The refined laws and regulations will partly address the kind of penalties that will be imposed for negligence.

The decision to monitor the credit records of children's food companies is intended to give consumers easier access to information about the companies that make the products before they buy them.

They will be allowed to access the manufacturer's production and sales records simply by keying the name into a database.

(China Daily September 20, 2005)


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