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Last Updated: Wednesday, 31 October 2007, 12:05 GMT
New food standards law in China
Food in a Chinese supermarket
There was previously no single law covering food production in China
China has approved new legislation aimed at improving national standards in food production.

The move is an attempt to calm international concern after a string of food-related scandals.

New laws will standardise food production and clamp down on illegal activity in the industry.

World Health Organisation chief Margaret Chan backed the move but said it would take time for confidence in Chinese exports to be restored.

The new law follows a series of damaging scandals in recent months, from the discovery of potentially deadly chemicals in toothpaste to sub-standard medicines.

The Chinese authorities promised they would tighten up the country's regulations covering the production, processing and sale of food.

WHO Margaret Chan and Li Changjiang head of China's product-quality watchdog
Margaret Chan (L) has said she will keep pressuring the Chinese

They say the new law will create an "overall explanation" of standards and replace the existing patchwork of rules which are overseen by several government agencies.

A government official said the law will be "key to monitoring the situation of food safety".

Changjiang Li, head of China's quality watchdog, said China is "keenly aware of the importance of food safety".

"It is a serious matter, not only for the organisation but for the world as a whole."

'Good for China'

Ms Chan, on a visit to Beijing, said she was "very impressed" with the Chinese efforts.

But she stressed that further progress would need to be made to restore the reputation of China's export industry.

"I am confident that the way forward will be good for the world and for China," she said.

China announced this week that 744 people have been arrested so far during investigations into the manufacture and sale of substandard food and drugs.





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