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Last Updated: Wednesday, 9 May 2007, 11:49 GMT 12:49 UK
China cracks down on food safety
Dead pig in China
Melamine is often used in animal feed in China to boost prices
China has pledged to clean up its tainted food and drug industry after a series of safety scares that have aroused global concern.

The announcement comes as two company managers were detained, accused of adding melamine to food additives.

The contaminated ingredient used in pet food led to the death of a number of cats and dogs, US inspectors allege.

Unregulated drugs have also been a concern. China's top drugs regulator is to go on trial charged with corruption.

State media said the trial of Zheng Xiaoyu, sacked in 2005 as head of the State Food and Drug Administration, would open this month.

He is accused of taking large bribes to approve untested medicine.

His case prompted the government to review the licences granted to around 170,000 medicines approved during his tenure.

Standards overhaul

China's State Council, or Cabinet, said the nationwide crackdown on woefully corrupt practices in the country's drug and food industry would compel companies to adopt "standards used in food-importing countries".

March 2007 Melamine is found in wheat gluten exports from China for use in pet food, prompting a recall of at least 100 pet food brands
Nov 2006 A dye farmers fed to ducks to make their eggs look fresher is found to contain cancer-causing properties and 5,000 ducks are culled
August 2006 About 40 people in Beijing contract meningitis after eating partially cooked snails at a chain of restaurants

They also pledged to test products made in animal feed and food for humans, including cooking oil, flour, beverages and baby food.

Melamine has no nutritional value but because it is rich in nitrogen, it makes food that uses it an ingredient appear to have more protein than it actually does and so meet required contractual obligations.

It is illegal to add melamine to food or animal feed in the US.

The two firms accused of exporting melamine-spiked food additives were named as Binzhou Futian Biology Technology and Xuzhou Anying Biologic Technology Development Company.

Both firms have denied any wrongdoing.

Officials from the US Food and Agriculture department have arrived in China to help investigate how the melamine compound got into the batch of feed that killed pets in the US.

They say Washington has considered a ban on imports of wheat gluten and rice protein from China.

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