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Milk scandal prompts revision of draft food safety law
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China's parliament put the draft food safety law high on its agenda last year after a milk contamination scandal caused widespread panic and public grumbles, top legislator Wu Bangguo said Monday.

The legislature "further" revised the draft Law on Food Safety based on "in-depth investigations and studies and a wide range of opinions" after the exposure of tainted products by the country's leading diary producers with Sanlu Group in Hebei Province at the epicenter, according to Wu.

The revisions underlined strengthened oversight and management on food safety by stipulating the establishment of a food safety commission by the State Council to coordinate and guide food safety work, said Wu, when delivering a work report to the annual session of the National People's Congress (NPC).

The NPC Standing Committee, with Wu as its chairman, endorsed the Law on Food Safety last month after four readings. It goes into effect on June 1, 2009.

As another result of the revisions following the milk scandal, the law also stipulates a ban on all chemicals and materials other than authorized additives in food production, saying that "only those items proved to be safe and necessary in food production are allowed to be listed as food additives."

In the tainted dairy products scandal, which left six infants dead and almost 300,000 sickened, melamine, often used in the manufacture of plastics, was added to milk products to deceive protein test.

The law also prohibits any claim related to prevention or cure of illness on tonic food label and instruction leaflets.

The booming industry of tonic food boasts an estimated annual output value of 100 billion yuan (14.62 billion U.S. dollars) in China.

Beijing-based dairy producer Sanyuan bought Sanlu Group earlier this month with 616.5 million yuan (90 million U.S. dollars) at an auction.

(Xinhua News Agency March 9, 2009)

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