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PLA Sets Sights on Soldiers' Food Safety
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An army marches on its stomach, Napoleon Bonaparte once famously said, and the People's Liberation Army (PLA) clearly believes in the dictum.

After a series of food and drug safety scandals nationwide, the PLA will strengthen food safety for its 2.3 million servicemen, according to a circular released recently.

"To strengthen food safety is to guarantee the PLA's combat capacity," said Zhou Pengjun, an official with the General Logistics Department, which issued the notice.

It aims to tighten supervision over all its food suppliers, which account for 90 percent of the total supply. The other 10 percent is farm produce grown by the troops themselves around their camps.

According to the circular:

Food suppliers have to pass safety and hygiene appraisals by the local governments.

All units must closely monitor the entire food supply chain and stop the use of fake or substandard products.

All servicemen have to be served in separate plates at army canteens.

The majority of the combat troops dine from dishes served separately after food safety awareness was raised following the 2003 SARS epidemic.

But non-combat forces and soldiers stationed in remote and mountainous areas still eat from a common dish.

Priority must be given to the supervision over canteens run by civil contractors.

All canteens are required to install more disinfectors and dishwashers, and food sampling will be done regularly.

An information sharing system will be established between the army and the State Food and Drug Administration, and the ministries of agriculture and health.

(China Daily July 13, 2007)

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