September 17, 2007 / 3:59 AM / in 10 years

China capital targets "fake" water before Olympics

BEIJING (Reuters) - China will attach electronic identification labels to every barrel of drinking water in its capital, state media said on Monday, after a report that almost half of water used in coolers across Beijing could be tainted.

China is trying to fight a series of health safety scandals ahead of next year's Beijing Olympics ranging from products as diverse as toys and toothpaste to tires, drugs and food.

The Beijing Times said in July that almost half the barreled water sold in the capital, host of the 2008 Olympics, could be "fake", or not as pure as its manufacturers claim.

The bogus water was either tap water or purified water of miscellaneous small brands poured into empty barrels sealed with quality standard marks.

Now a code will be printed beneath a label on the mouth of every barrel to ensure quality, the China Daily said.

"We received complaints that some small water sellers are cheating consumers with bogus water," Bai Jianguo, an official with the Beijing bureau of quality and technical supervision, was quoted as saying.

"But when we want to pin the responsibility on someone, the manufacturers and sellers start shuffling the blame."

China's health safety failings have drawn global attention since mislabeled chemical exports were found in cough syrup in Panama and pet food in the United States.

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