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China spending over USD 1bn on food and drug safety

China says it shall spend more than USD 1bn improving food and drug safety by 2010

China will spend more than USD 1bn improving food and drug safety by 2010 and the regulator will be given stronger oversight powers, according to an official press statement.

China has been trying to repair its damaged overseas reputation regarding food and drug safety after a number of high profile scandals regarding tainted pet food, toys, tires, toothpaste, medicine and fish.

A US survey has revealed that consumers there do not trust Chinese food and drug products, with nearly two-thirds saying they would support a ban on the import of Chinese goods.

A spokesperson for China's State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), said the government had ring-fenced CNY 8.8bn (USD 1.2bn) for food and drug safety over the current Five Year Plan, which runs to 2010, and would also spend some of this figure on a new, much larger laboratory. No figures showing spending in previous years were released by the SFDA.

The SFDA said: "Once the Five Year Plan has been completed, the abilities and the base of the regulator will be substantially raised. There will be an enormous improvement in the system for guaranteeing food and drug safety for the public."

New rules would give the watchdog the power to seal factories and seize whatever materials they need when probing sub-standard goods. The SFDA added that it would also institute a nationwide safety campaign, which would start in remote country regions that are home to 60 per cent of China's total population of 1.3bn.

Despite the SFDA's positive spin, the Chinese state media said that the government would launch a campaign to stop the use of banned pesticides in the run up to the Beijing games. Five pesticides have been banned so far in 2007, while the Agriculture Ministry has been compiling a blacklist of companies still making them.

8th August 2007

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