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Gov'ts in China urged to enforce Food Safety Law
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China's cabinet Tuesday ordered local governments and central governmental departments to carefully prepare for the implementation of newly-adopted Food Safety Law, with special focus on the safety of dairy products.

General Office of the State Council, or the Cabinet, said in a circular to the departments and local governments that the law, which goes into effect on June 1, must be enforced in a "down-to-earth" manner in order to ensure food products safe to consume.

The law, adopted by the national legislature on Feb. 28, has been widely seen as a new push to improve food safety in the country through stricter monitoring and supervision, tougher safety standards, recall of substandard products and severe punishment on offenders.

"Governments and relevant departments should take all responsibilities stipulated by the law to enhance supervision and monitoring, and to seriously deal with officials if they fail to perform the duty," said the circular.

The Ministry of Health was asked to create a new set of unified national standards on food safety, as stipulated by the law, by coordinating and revising current standards.

The revision of safety standards on dairy products should be done as soon as possible, said the circular.

Standards should also be made or revised to tighten the control of bacteria, pesticide residue, heavy metal and polluting materials in food products, as well as the use of food additives.

"All safety standards should be available for the public for further consultation," said the circular.

Governments at various levels were also ordered to give "necessary" support to the monitoring and supervision work, and mass media are encouraged to help raise public awareness of the law.

"The implementation of the law is of great significance because food safety directly matters the people's health and safety, the nation's economic growth and social stability," it said.

The law was adopted following some food scandals that triggered vehement calls for overhauling China's current monitoring system.

Although the country had certain food quality control systems in place for many years, lots of loopholes emerged in past years, mainly due to varied standards, lack of sense of social responsibility among some business people, lenient punishment for violators and weaknesses in testing and monitoring work.

(Xinhua News Agency March 11, 2009)

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