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Wal-Mart Raises Standards for Suppliers in China

U.S. retail giant Wal-Mart says it is setting higher standards for its suppliers in China following a series of product safety scares.

Speaking in Beijing Wednesday, Wal-Mart Vice Chairman Mike Duke said the company is asking for more transparency from its suppliers.

Wal-Mart says it will require Chinese suppliers to tell it the name and location of every factory used to make products for the retailer and to find solutions when problems arise.

It also will require Chinese suppliers to clearly demonstrate they are complying with environmental and worker safety regulations.

The retailer will apply the standards to apparel first and gradually expand them to other products.

Public confidence in the Made in China label has been rocked in recent years by a series of product safety scandals.

Most recently, tainted milk claimed the lives of four children in China and sickened tens of thousands, and triggered import bans of Chinese-made dairy products across the globe.

The United Nations released a report Wednesday urging China to set up a single regulatory agency to monitor the safety of food products from the farm to the table.

The report says China's oversight of food products is split between numerous agencies and their tasks complicated by numerous laws and regulations.

WHO food safety chief Jorgen Schlundt says the cumbersome system resulted in a slow response when the tainted milk scandal emerged in September.

Chinese milk producers added the industrial chemical melamine in their products to make them appear richer in protein. Melamine can cause kidney stones, and even life-threatening kidney failure in some cases.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP, AP and Reuters.