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Asia-pacific

China food safety law passed

Latest update : 2009-03-02

China adopted a long-awaited food safety law, according to state media on Saturday. The policy measure follows public outcry over a contaminated milk incident that killed at least six children and made nearly 300,000 others sick.

AFP - China on Saturday approved a long-awaited food safety law, state media reported, in a bid to end repeated scandals involving dangerous food products in the country.
  
The law has been in the works since October last year after a huge scandal erupted over contaminated milk which killed at least six children and sickened nearly 300,000 others in China.
  
"The law will see the establishment of a monitoring and supervision system, a set of national standards on food safety, a recall system, and severe punishment for offenders," the official Xinhua news agency said.
  
China's huge and poorly regulated food industry is regularly hit by scandals involving unsafe foods which harm public health and result in product recalls both at home and abroad.
  
In September, the tainted milk scandal -- one of the biggest to hit the industry -- caused a huge outcry, leading to China-made dairy product recalls and bans across the world.
  
A court in January sentenced the head of Sanlu -- the dairy firm at the heart of the scandal -- to life in prison for "manufacturing and selling fake or substandard products."
  
Two others were sentenced to death over the incident, which saw the industrial chemical melamine added to watered-down milk to make it appear higher in protein.
  
Xinhua gave no further details of the content of the food safety law, but according to a previous report by the state-run agency, it would make health authorities directly responsible for approving additives in processed foods.
  
The agency also said it would prevent food safety authorities from issuing inspection exemptions to major food producers, as happened in the tainted milk scandal.
  
The law was passed by the National People's Congress Standing Committee, China's top legislature.

Date created : 2009-03-01

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