China ramps up food-safety law


Catherine Zhang, contributing editor reporting from London, England

Published on
March 15, 2009

China's legislature has passed a food-safety law to regulate more than 500,000 food processing companies in the country, including seafood processing plants, according to an announcement by the Chinese Ministry of Health earlier this month.
The new law, which goes into effect 1 June, will ban unnecessary food additives to infant formula, following last year's scandal involving melamine tainted milk powder.
Traces of melamine in Chinese-produced milk powder that sickened hundreds of thousands of children were also found in fish feed and consequently in seafood exported from China last year.
China's under-regulated seafood inspection process allowed processing plants to add melamine to fish and animal feed to artificially boost protein readings.
The new law also calls for a more streamlined monitoring and supervision system, including faster recalls and serious punishment for offenders. Regulatory agencies will be consolidated to more than half of the original number to generate more efficient results.
Beijing has been working to restore confidence in the country's food supply since melamine was found in pet food ingredients that killed and sickened pets in North and South America last year.
Though some U.S. seafood importers are testing for melamine, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration currently does not require seafood products to be tested for melamine.

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