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China's Hu urges safer food amid health scares
April 25, 2007 / 4:28 AM / 10 years ago

China's Hu urges safer food amid health scares

(Adds details)

BEIJING, April 25 (Reuters) - Chinese President Hu Jintao has urged farms to improve food safety and develop the organic sector, state media said on Wednesday, reflecting widespread anxiety after a series of health scandals.

The ruling Communist Party’s Politburo -- an inner council with some two dozen members -- listened to reports about food safety and Hu issued his warning, promising stricter rules on growing and processing, the official People’s Daily reported.

"Resolving the food problems of 1.3 billion people and improving agricultural returns and farmers’ incomes demands that we accelerate implementation of agricultural standardisation," Hu said.

"Without agricultural standardisation, there can be no agricultural modernisation and no assurance of food safety," he added.

China has been shaken by scandals over everything from fake baby milk and contaminated pet food to carcinogenic fish, blamed on unscrupulous businesses and lax official supervision, fuelling public anger.

Last August, nearly 40 people in Beijing contracted meningitis after they ate raw or partially cooked snails at a chain of Sichuan restaurants.

In 2004, a major health scandal erupted when China revealed that at least 13 babies had died from malnutrition in the country’s impoverished eastern province of Anhui after being fed fake baby milk.

Melamine, a chemical used in plastics and fertilizer, has been found in wheat gluten and rice protein exported from China to the United States for use in some pet foods, triggering a recall of more than 100 brands.




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