Months after melamine, China food safety grim

Months after melamine, China food safety grim
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First Published: Mon, Mar 02 2009. 10 25 AM IST
Updated: Mon, Mar 02 2009. 10 25 AM IST
Beijing: China said on Monday food security remains grim, despite campaigns launched after several health scares, the most recent last year’s tainted milk formula which killed at least six toddlers and made almost 300,000 sick.
A new food-safety law, approved on Saturday, attempts to fix a fragmentary regulatory system which officials believe led to recurring food problems.
“At present, China’s food-security situation remains grim with high risks and contradictions,” the Ministry of Health said in documents handed to reporters on Monday.
“The food safety law, which takes effect on 1 June, sets quality and safety standards for products and lays out a regulatory system as well as a risk-monitoring system.”
China approved in principle a new food safety law in October 2007 following a raft of scandals involving unsafe toothpaste, seafood and pet food, among other products.
It has since been rocked by last September’s milk scandal in which melamine, an industrial compound used in making kitchen counter tops, was added to milk and other products to cheat nutrition tests, prompting Chinese-made products to be stripped from shelves worldwide.
A month later, the World Health Organisation’s food safety chief, Jorgen Schlundt, called China’s food-safety system “disjointed” and said poor communications between ministries and agencies may have prolonged the outbreak of melamine poisoning.
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First Published: Mon, Mar 02 2009. 10 25 AM IST