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China to promote hygiene certificates for restaurants by year's end
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Ninety-five percent of China's catering establishments will have a certified hygiene grade by the end of this year as part of a nationwide effort to improve food safety, a senior health official said on Wednesday.

Health departments would issue four grades from A for the best restaurants to D for the worst in accordance with their basic hygiene facilities, said Vice Health Minister Chen Xiaohong at a conference on catering consumption safety in Wuhan, capital of central Hubei province.

Health departments would strengthen supervision of restaurants with low grades and advise the public against eating in such restaurants, Chen said.

The Health Ministry started the hygiene grading system in 2002, but for "various reasons", it was poorly implemented in some areas.

Only Beijing, Shandong and Sichuan provinces have relatively high rates of hygiene grading among restaurants.

Meanwhile, collective canteens and catering establishments above county-level are also required to check suppliers' hygiene certificates when buying raw materials by the end of this year, according to Chen.

(Xinhua News Agency October 18, 2007)

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