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Nationwide drive improves food safety monitoring
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China said Tuesday that food safety monitoring had improved since it launched a nationwide drive in December against illegal additives.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (GAQSIQ), one of the departments that participated in the effort, said in a statement that it had taken steps including examining food producers and products and upgrading food-processing facilities to reduce risks.

Last December, nine departments including GAQSIQ and the ministries of Health, Industry and Information Technology, Public Security, Supervision, Agriculture and Commerce began the nationwide campaign.

The effort followed the melamine-adulteration milk and baby formula scandal, which left six infants dead and almost 300,000 ill. The campaign ended in March.

GAQSIQ said in its statement that it had monitored more than 83 food projects involving 31 food categories so far this year and cancelled 3,572 production permits held by 3,347 companies.

The quality inspection and quarantine authorities also found problems in 1,792 batches of food from more than 60 countries and regions the United States, Japan, Australia, New Zealand and the European Union in the first quarter, it said.

An official with the Ministry of Health (MOH) said Tuesday that more than 770,000 law enforcement personnel had been dispatched by the end of February to investigate more than 1.36 million companies that produce food or food additives.

MOH received 1,394 complaints of the illegal use of food additives and prosecuted more than 1,274 companies.

A three-month sample survey by the Ministry of Agriculture that began in December and covered facilities in major milk-producing provinces had found no more melamine contamination, according to the ministry.

Meanwhile, more than 36,000 law enforcement personnel were sent by the Agriculture Ministry to check nearly 2,000 raw milk collecting stations and more than 35,000 dairy farms. They destroyed more than 20 tonnes of defective dairy products, according to a statement by the ministry.

In addition, the industry and commerce authorities stepped up efforts to supervise and monitor the food market, with a focus on staple and seasonal food. Media reports earlier said those efforts mainly targeted high-protein food, such as processed meat, dairy products and sauces.

Products would be taken from supermarkets and tested to identify any illegal or excessive additives. Investigators would focus on small food producers, which tend to have fewer government and internal inspectors.

(Xinhua News Agency April 22, 2009)

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