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Last Updated: Friday, 13 July 2007, 09:19 GMT 10:19 UK
China army ups food safety checks
Chinese butchers in Beijing
China has been hit by a food and medicine safety scare
The Chinese army is to take steps to ensure the safety of its food supply, due to fears unsafe products could harm combat capacity, state media reports.

According to a circular, food suppliers will have to pass hygiene and safety checks, and units will be ordered to monitor the supply chain.

In recent months China has been hit by numerous food and drug safety scares.

Poor quality or fake food and drugs, such as toothpaste, pet food and powdered milk, have been found.

In some cases, people have died because of tainted products.

'Weak supervision'

According to the China Daily, the People's Liberation Army's (PLA) 2.3 million troops grow around 10% of their own food but depend on suppliers for the other 90%.

"To strengthen food safety is to guarantee the PLA's combat capacity," the newspaper quoted Zhou Pengjun, an official with the General Logistics Department, as saying.

Undated photo of Zheng Xiaoyu at a CPPCC meeting in Beijing
Zheng Xiaoyu headed the food and drug agency for seven years
Troops will also be banned from sharing communal dishes to prevent the spread of disease, the circular said.

At a news conference in Beijing earlier this week, China's State Food and Drug Administration admitted it had a huge job ahead to improve its supervision of safety standards.

"As a developing country, China's food and drug supervision work began late and its foundations are weak," spokeswoman Yan Jiangying said.

Her comments came as the agency's former head, Zheng Xiaoyu, was executed for corruption.

He had been convicted of taking bribes linked to sub-standard medicines, which were blamed for several deaths.

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