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Beijing: Emergency Plans for Food Safety
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Two months after four people sued Beijing for delays in warning people not to eat snails infested with parasites the city has come up with a series of alerts and actions it'll take in the event of an outbreak of illness caused by contaminated food.

When a food emergency occurs the city will immediately put teams into action to handle medical treatment, testing and assessment, news briefings and investigations, according to a newly released emergency plan.

The city's food safety authorities will also seize, ban or recall food products that are determined to be harmful.

The city's quick response measures will involve the municipal and county government departments of health, education, public security and industry and commerce administrations, the plan explains. 

The plan was issued by the capital's emergency management and food safety offices on Sunday. Food safety has become one of the top concerns of city residents following a series of food-related incidents last year.

Between June 24 and August 9 dozens of people were sickened by a parasite after eating raw or undercooked snails in a city restaurant. In November four people, who were hospitalized after eating the snails, launched a suit against the city's health bureau. They claim the city didn't make public the dangers posed by the snails until August 17. The results of their law suit aren't yet known.

The country's food and drug regulator, the State Food and Drug Administration, is evaluating food safety measures in 31 major cities. The campaign, in its fourth year, aims to evaluate the performance of local government food safety supervision and citizen's level of satisfaction with their work over the past 12 months.

(Xinhua News Agency January 15, 2007)

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