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Watchdog to Regularly Report Food, Drug Safety Info
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The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) will hold regular press conferences on a trial basis in the second half of this year to allow better oversight by the public and the media and to curb corruption.

SFDA head Shao Mingli said on Monday that people's food and drug safety cannot be guaranteed without effective public and media supervision. Institutions must evolve to ensure the public's right to know.

He said "the SFDA will provide adequate information concerning food and drug safety in a timely manner, to ensure accurate information is made public and to prevent wrong reports from misleading the public."

Food and drug safety has been one of the most talked-about issues in China since former SFDA director Zheng Xiaoyu was investigated on suspicion of receiving bribes amid a slew of scandals relating to food and drug safety in 2006.

While Zheng was under investigation, Hao Heping, former director of the SFDA's medical equipment department, and Cao Wenzhuang, former director of the SFDA's drug registration department, who had both served as secretaries to Zheng, were given sentences for graft.

Last year, Chinese society was shocked by the news that Xinfu, a substandard antibiotic drug made by a company in east China's Anhui Province, had caused at least ten deaths.

During the "two sessions," the annual session of the National People's Congress and the annual session of the national committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC) this March, some CPPCC national committee members blamed the corruption in the food and safety area on an over-concentration of power and the lack of public supervision.

They said the drug approval and circulation system is not transparent and open, and breeds corruption.

Shao recently published an open letter on the internet saying that "the SFDA's fundamental goal is to safeguard public food and drug safety. We are confident we can perform the holy duty entrusted to us by the Party and the people."

(Xinhua News Agency April 3, 2007)

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