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China to Crack Down on Substandard Food
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The National People's Congress (NPC) held a forum on Wednesday to discuss food safety and specifically how to overcome obstacles in revising the Food Hygiene Law.

NPC deputies and officials from various departments attended the forum to discuss the establishment of a food safety supervision system, a food safety risk evaluation system, a set of food safety standards and a food safety-related information publication system.

Food safety is a much-discussed topic in China. Substandard and even poisonous food is regularly spotted in food markets.

China's food safety watchdog announced in November 2006 that it had nabbed seven companies that were producing salted red-yolk eggs contaminated with dangerous red Sudan dyes.

Sudan dyes are used legally in the leather and fabric industries, but are banned for food use.

Statistics from the Ministry of Health show that in the fourth quarter of 2005 alone, China reported 54 serious food poisoning cases, with 1,897 people becoming sick and 39 killed. Toxic zoic and vegetal food -- such as poisonous fungus, globefish, and kidney beans -- caused the most mischief.

Since 2003, the Tenth NPC has received more than 3,000 motions and suggestions from NPC deputies about how to strengthen food safety legislation.

In response, the NPC has put amendments to the Food Hygiene Law onto this year's legislative agenda.

The Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council and the Education, Science, Culture and Health Committee of the NPC have carried out field studies and held several symposiums to work out amendments to the law.

China promulgated a Food Hygiene Law in 1995. More detailed provisions are likely to be added this year to strengthen supervision of the production and circulation of food, and prevent substandard food from entering the market.

(Xinhua News Agency April 5, 2007)

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