09/19/2007, 00.00
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Food safety campaign launched

Food sellers must be able to trace provenance. Authorities impose tighter controls and licensing on local and imported goods. Malaysia rejects tonnes of ‘unsafe’ Chinese food.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Chinese quality control authorities will require all grocery stores, convenience stores and roadside stalls to keep records, including invoices or other notes, by the end of this year so that inspectors can trace food products.

In the first seven months of the year inspectors uncovered and shut down 9,098 unlicensed food makers and other types of vendors, said Zhou Bohua, director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce.

He added that inspectors also found nearly 227 million yuan worth of fake, dangerous or shoddy products since June last year.

“This is a special type of battle to preserve people's health and basic interests, to preserve the trust in and international image of Chinese products,” Mr Zhou said.

The ‘Made-in-China’ label has come under intense scrutiny over the past six months following a spate of safety scandals involving goods ranging from toys and tyres to seafood and toothpaste.

Poor domestic quality controls has similarly come in for criticism as a result of repeated cases of poisoning, including death caused by food sold in restaurants, stores and roadside stalls.

Controls and licensing will be tighter from now on to ensure the quality and safety of Chinese products, Zhou said.

Beijing has also sharply increased inspections of imported US food, which has left American beef piling up in US warehouses and delayed shipments of black pepper and other goods.

China has also rejected consignments of pork from the US and Canada because they contained a ractopamine, an additive it banned in 2002.

Meanwhile, Malaysia has placed some mainland exporters on a watch list after 18 food shipments were found to be tainted with high levels of preservatives, pesticides and heavy metals this year, a senior official said.

The suspect shipments included preserved fruits, seaweed, lychees, honey and salted vegetables, said Abdul Rahim Mohamad, director of Food Safety and Quality Control at the Malaysian Health Ministry.

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