More than 2,800 food factories in China's rural areas were demolished after being found to produce fake and substandard products in the first 10 months of this year, according to China's market watchdog.
The State Administration for Industry and Commerce said the move was part of a nationwide crackdown which started in January to clean up the countryside's food industry.
More than 20,000 tons of substandard food products were taken off the shelves in rural markets and stores, the administration said.
About 47,800 food factories without operating licenses were closed and 3,800 producers had their licenses revoked for not meeting hygiene or safety standards, it said.
"The campaign has helped impress upon local food producers the need for certain qualifications and production standards, improved the market order in the countryside and protected the rights and interests of rural consumers," said Liu Fan, deputy head of the administration.
China has intensified quality control checks over urban manufacturers after poisonous chemicals were found in export goods like pet food, toys and seafood.
But exerting control over the vast rural markets, many of which produce food with no quality guarantees often in cramped workshops scattered all over the countryside, has been more difficult.
From January to October, the administration inspected more than 14,500 food markets and examined more than three million food business operators in rural areas.
"The administration has urged local markets to improve checks and quarantine standards before selling a certain type of food and set up stable links with grain and vegetable farms and other farm produce bases with good credit," Liu said.
"We hope to spend one to two years clearing the rural food markets to solve the main problems and greatly increase food quality," Liu said.
(Xinhua News Agency December 6, 2007)