China vows to clean up milk industry

The Chinese government is giving a very strong message to the world:

China’s Cabinet has vowed a complete overhaul of the scandal-ridden dairy industry, pledging to inspect every link from the farm to the dinner table to try to restore public trust in Chinese-made food products.

In its strongest action yet, China’s highest level of government called the industry “chaotic” and acknowledged there was a lack of oversight.

At Monday’s meeting of the State Council, or Cabinet, the government said it would punish companies and officials involved in the contamination of milk products that has been blamed in the deaths of four babies and for sickening more than 54,000 children.

The scandal revealed “that China’s dairy production and circulation has been chaotic and supervision has been gravely absent”, said a notice about the meeting on the government’s Web site. Unscrupulous “elements” and companies had also put profit above people’s lives, it said.

Their concern is not just about health:

The head of China’s quality watchdog said the country was stepping up checks on its exports to ensure they conformed to the food safety standards of recipient countries, the official Xinhua News Agency reported.

“Food safety concerns not only the health of the public, but also the life of business,” Xinhua quoted Wang Yong, the director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the agency responsible for ensuring that China’s food supply chain is safe.

Health should be the first concern but the damage to Chinese businesses, and China, from the melamine posioning scandal is immense. Domestic and international consumers will take a lot of convincing that it is safe to eat Chinese produce.

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