BEIJING: China has dispatched inspectors to 16 provinces to urge local governments to thoroughly investigate cases concerning food safety, the government's latest move to boost food safety after melamine-tainted milk products have reportedly resurfaced even after the 2008 crackdown on contaminated milk.
Any law-breaking concerning food safety will be severely dealt with, an official with the National Food Safety Rectification Office led by Health Minister Chen Zhu said here Tuesday.
The unnamed official said the office recently dispatched eight teams of inspectors. The official did not give details on the total number of inspectors involved or their identities.
Milk powder laced with melamine that should have been destroyed has been used, local authorities discovered.
Media reports said melamine-tainted dairy products have resurfaced in several Chinese provinces.
Melamine is an industrial compound which can give a false positive on protein tests and cause kidney stones. Melamine-contaminated milk products left at least six children dead and 300,000 sickened in 2008.
"These cases reveal that the toxic milk powder recalled in 2008 was not completely destroyed and is now illegally reused for new products," the official said.
Food safety issues have became particularly sensitive in China after the 2008 milk scandal. The government has intensified supervision of food safety with new laws and regulations, including the Food Safety Law that took effect on June 1, 2009. Nationwide checks of food safety have also been increased.
In December 2009, three officials from the Shanghai Panda Dairy Company were prosecuted on suspicion of producing and selling melamine-tainted milk powder. Local police said all the company's products had been recalled and that there was no harm to consumers.
The official also said food safety was a global issue, one that existed in both developing and developed countries.
Improving food safety standards is a long-term tough task for China, the official added. (China Daily)