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Last Updated: Friday, 20 July 2007, 10:07 GMT 11:07 UK
Scandal-hit China food firms shut
By Michael Bristow
BBC News, Beijing

Chinese lab technicians test food samples - 12/06/07
China has taken action over the high-profile scandals
China has closed down three companies and arrested several people involved in food and drug scandals that have caused alarm both at home and abroad.

Two of the firms exported contaminated wheat protein to the US that eventually led to the deaths of cats and dogs.

Another firm was shut down after being linked to the deaths of a number of people in Panama.

Minister Li Changjiang, in charge of food and drug safety, promised China would improve its standards.

"The Chinese government is moving to address the fundamental problems behind issues relating to food product safety," he said.

Several scandals involving sub-standard Chinese products have emerged in recent weeks, tarnishing the country's international reputation.

Investigations

To restore that damaged image, China launched a series of investigations into each case.

Minister Li personally oversaw the publication of some of the results.

One found that a firm in Jiangsu Province and another in Shandong Province had together exported more than 1,300 tons of contaminated wheat protein to the US.

CHINESE PRODUCT SCARES
Pet food - tainted with chemical melamine
Toothpaste - tainted with chemical diethylene glycol and bacteria
Farmed fish - traces of banned drugs and pesticides found
Tyres - fault may cause blow-outs
Toys - contain lead or pose choking hazard
Children's jewellery - contains lead
Ceramic heaters - pose fire safety risk
Source: FDA and US Consumer Product Safety Commission

They avoided detection at customs by labelling their products as chemical ingredients.

These products were contaminated with melamine, a chemical usually used in the production of plastics. They were used to make pet food.

A glycerine factory in Jiangsu Province has also been closed down in connection with the deaths in Panama.

Those occurred after a chemical called TD-glycerin, which should be used only for industrial purposes, found its way into a cough syrup.

However, the minister said two other suspected cases of sub-standard products turned out to be untrue.

And he blamed the foreign media for not waiting until the full facts were known before reporting these incidents.

"I think the majority of news stories are factual. However, some press organisations fail to get the complete or full picture," he said.

China has come under increasing pressure from countries such as the US and Japan to improve the standard of its food and medicines.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
China tries to regain trust



SEE ALSO
Bush tackles scares over imports
18 Jul 07 |  Americas
Beijing suspends US meat imports
14 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
China food safety head executed
10 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
China tackles tainted food crisis
10 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Death penalty for China official
29 May 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Fifth of China goods sub-standard
04 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific

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