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China intensifies crackdown on illegal use of non-edible materials in food

04-22-2011 09:50 BJT

BEIJING, April 21 (Xinhua) -- The Chinese government has ordered an intensified crackdown on the illegal use of non-edible materials in food, according to a circular issued by the General Office of China's State Council, or the cabinet.

Posted Thursday on the official website of China's central government, the circular stressed that non-edible materials -- apart from certified food additives -- are banned from use in food.

The circular added that illicit drugs or any other materials that jeopardize human health are banned in the growing, cultivation, processing, and transportation of agricultural products.

Greater inspection efforts should be made in preventing the illegal adding of non-edible materials in food in those key aspects, especially during the purchasing of raw milk, transportation and slaughtering of livestock, the circular said.

Any enterprise or individual who violates the regulations will face harsh punishments, according to the circular.

Enterprises that intentionally add non-edible materials to food products will face revocation of licenses, confiscation of all illicit earnings, and they will be made to pay compensation for damages caused.

Owners of underground factories that produce non-edible materials for illegal use, key personnel involved in the distribution of such materials, and senior executives of food companies who oversee the intentional adding of these materials, will be dealt with severely according to law.

The circular also demands improved supervision over the production, sale and use of food additives.

Food producers and catering enterprises must not use food additives which bear no standard information as to its manufacturers, it said.

China will publicize an upgraded national standard that offers guidance for safe use of food additives by end of 2011, according to the circular.

Also on Thursday, a statement issued by the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) also urged tightened supervision regarding the use of food additives and flavoring materials in restaurants and snack bars.

Use of any food additive or flavoring that are uncertified or bear no standard information as to its manufacturers, or overuse of such materials, are prohibited, the SFDA said.

In a related development, China on Wednesday publicized a regulation that sets limits of melamine levels in food products.

Infant food products, in which levels of melamine, a toxic chemical normally used in manufacturing plastics, is higher than 1 milligram per kilogram of food, are prohibited from sale in China, the regulation said.

In other food products, the maximum tolerable level of melamine is 2.5 mg for per kg of food, said the regulation, issued by Chinese Health Ministry along with other government agencies.

These moves came after a recent series of food safety scandals emerged despite Chinese authorities' efforts to revamp the country's food industry.

Last week, steamed buns in Shanghai were reported to have been dyed, past the due by date or laced with coloring additives to mislead consumers.

Less than one month ago, the country's largest meat processor, Shuanghui Group, was forced to publicly apologize after some of its pork products were found to contain clenbuterol, an additive which stops pigs accumulating fat and is poisonous to humans.

In 2008, China's food industry suffered a heavy blow when milk products were found to contain dangerous levels of melamine, which were intentionally added to make milk appear to be protein-rich. The toxic milk killed at least six babies and sickened 300,000 others across the country.

Editor:Yang Jie |Source: Xinhua

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