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China: Beijing launches massive checkup for product quality, food safety

Food

Beijing will ban all unlicensed catering outlets and celebrity-starred medical ads by the end of this year, according to the capital’s quality and food safety authorities.

The city would focus its quality checkup on ten kinds of products , including food, drugs, home appliances and toys, said the municipal government when kicking off a four-month campaign aimed at improving product quality and food safety on Saturday. The drive is part of a nationwide campaign to improve food and product safety launched late August, which Chinese Vice Premier Wu Yi described as a “special battle” to ensure the people’s health and interests and maintain a good image of Chinese products.

Vegetables, fruits, meat, edible oil, aquatic products, children’s food and health food are the main targets in food checkups, according to a detailed plan for the campaign. The plan says that by the end of the year the city will close all unlicensed restaurants, all its food producers must be qualified, and no harmful material can be used in food processing. According to the plan, midsize and small catering outlets, restaurants in countryside tourist spots, and canteens in schools and construction sites will also be given special attention. Medical advertisements in which public figures or experts testify the alleged effectiveness of products will also be banned.

Beijing, the host city of the 2008 Olympics, also vows to improve its unified food safety tracing platform, which comprises subsystems for fruits and vegetables, animal products, pre-packaged food and other food products for the Games. “Currently, the main problem in the city’s product quality and food safety lies in small food processing factories and workshops and in the urban-rural fringe areas,” said Lu Hao, vice mayor of Beijing. The checkups will be carried out by the city’s industry and commerce, quality supervision and health departments.

The Chinese government has been striving to improve product quality after a string of safety scares with China-made products at home and abroad. The scares included tainted wheat gluten for pet food and children’s toys found to contain excessive lead levels. In the latest move, China’s quality watchdog on Friday announced the nation’s landmark recall systems for unsafe food products and toys. The two regulations went into effect on the same day. Beijing Olympic organizers are confident of ensuring food safety of the Games. “All food entering the Olympic Village and other facilities will be given an Olympic food safety logistics code,” said Wang Wei, executive vice president of the Beijing organizing Committee for the Olympic Games.

“High technology arts including IC card, RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) and GPS (Global Positioning Satellites) system will be used to monitor the whole process from start of production through transportation to the village,” Wang said. The Pinggu District, the biggest fruit producing area of Beijing, has been selected to supply 40 kinds of “green” fruits, including peach, pear, apple and plum, for the Games. Ten thousand peach farmers of Pinggu made pledges in early August not to use banned pesticides and fertilizers in fruits for the Games. (peopledaily.com.cn)

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