China Acts On Food Safety After Pet Poisonings

CHINA - China will launch a food industry clean up after exports of a contaminated ingredient in pet food drew global attention to its insufficient controls.
calendar icon 9 May 2007
clock icon 2 minute read
Contaminated Pet Food Also Got Into Poultry Feed

It will prioritize inspecting fertilizer and pesticide use in vegetable planting as well as animal medicines and additives in livestock feed, according to a notice from the State Council, China's cabinet.

China's rush into capitalism has created a rash of unregulated companies, operating on thin margins, whose temptation to cut corners has sometimes led to deaths from dangerous food additives.

That's increasingly raising concern in countries that import food, or food ingredients, from China.

China acknowledged on Tuesday that two Chinese companies illegally exported wheat gluten and rice protein that contained melamine scrap, a chemical product that artificially inflates protein levels. It was mixed into pet food along with another compound, causing a spate of animal deaths in the United States.

"I think the primary thing that must be recognized is that this thing represents a gap in the regulatory system, a worldwide gap," said a U.S. official based in China.

"Although there's probably a lot of culpability on the part of the Chinese -- misrepresenting products is a common procedure in China to skirt around their regulatory process -- it doesn't necessarily indict their regulatory process. It more or less indicts the ability to enforce the rules."

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