March/April 2010

Scandal prompts China to boost food safety

China will step up food safety efforts in the wake of a massive dairy scandal, expanding supervision to reach more of the country's countless small farms, an agriculture official said.

Vice Minister of Agriculture Wei Chao'an said agricultural officials at all levels are working this year "to prevent any large-scale food safety crises," according to

Wei said China was working to bring more farms under better supervision, a challenge in a vast country where some rural areas are still very poor.

"Our agricultural products overall are safe and of high quality, but we must also recognize that while we transition from traditional to modern farming, many of our operations remain scattered, production methods are still backward, and our supervision lags behind," Wei said.

A ministry statement said the government promises to "implement quality and safety monitoring programs targeting raw and fresh milk, and strengthen supervision of purchase stations for raw and fresh milk."

Despite tightened regulations and increased inspections on producers, melamine-tainted milk products have recently shown up repackaged in several places around the country. Melamine, which can cause kidney stones and kidney failure, and is used to make plastics and fertilizers, has also been found added to pet food and animal feed.