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China Declares Food Safety Push a Success


China has declared its campaign to improve food safety a success. The effort to better supervise food manufacturers followed a series of scandals over tainted products sold at home and overseas. Daniel Schearf reports from Beijing.

China's product quality and safety watchdog said Monday the four-month campaign to improve food safety produced significant results.

Pu Changcheng is vice minister of China's administration for quality supervision, inspection, and quarantine. He says the campaign's objective of improving food safety had been reached and all tasks accomplished.

He says the illegal practices of using non-food materials or recycled food to produce and process food has been basically eliminated. He also says the campaign blocked the illegal practice of abusing food additives such as preservatives and coloring.

Pu says all 120,000 small food workshops in the country have signed commitments to quality and safety. But he admits that monitoring these small producers is the biggest product safety problem the country faces.

Pu says in recent years random and routine inspections have shown the majority of counterfeit and poor quality food came from small workshops.

He says that this year the government will make oversight of small producers a high priority.

Food safety became a public concern in China in 2004 when at least 13 babies died from malnutrition caused by fake milk powder.

Pu says more than 16 types of illegal food production were stopped during last year's campaign, including making milk powder without a license.

China has also come under international condemnation for tainted exports ranging from toothpaste to pet food ingredients and seafood. Last year millions of toys made in China were recalled because of safety hazards.

Pu says the foreign media has generalized about Chinese product safety based on a few individual cases and that foreign design flaws were in fact the main problem with the toys.

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