China Says Quality Campaign a “Total Success” as Olympics Loom

China announced Monday that its four-month campaign to ensure <"">food safety and <"">product quality was a total success and all goals were met months before Beijing hosts the Olympic. Deputy quality watchdog chief Pu Changcheng minimized the scandals saying, “The tasks of the rectification campaign have been fulfilled completely and its objectives have all been reached. The overall quality of Chinese-made toys will be further improved and safety will be fully guaranteed,” Pu said. But many analysts, while conceding that China has made progress, are doubtful that the country has solved all of its manufacturing problems.

Earlier this year, the US Food and Drug Administration imposed restrictions on some Chinese fish when banned antibiotics turned up in import shipments. 
 Chinese plants produced and exported wheat gluten laced with melamine, a compound used to make plastic, for use in pet food, poisoning and killing pets in the U.S. Millions of toys made in China were recalled this year mainly because of excessive lead paint levels.

In response, to the safety scandals, Chinese officials initiated inspections of over 3,000 toy exporters and suppliers, and revoked 600 export licenses. China’s food and drug safety agency revoked the license of a company responsible for making tainted leukemia drugs that caused leg pains and partial paralysis in dozens of patients and Chinese officials seized thousands of tainted products and put many unregulated shops and eateries out of business, netting nearly three million pounds of substandard food and 945 tons of pork which had been slaughtered illegally or came from pigs which had died of disease. Inspectors also shut 192,400 unlicensed food producers and pulled 29,800 products from the shelves and 100% of stores in larger towns and cities now have a quality-label system in place allowing them to trace products back to suppliers.

Under a new agreement allowing U.S. inspectors access to Chinese factories and ensuring Chinese manufacturers continued access to the U.S. market, Chinese exporters will register with the Chinese government and agree to annual inspections by China’s office of General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine. Enforcement will be at the discretion of the Chinese, an aspect of the program that has some US consumer advocates to worried.

The official People’s Daily said in December that the latest campaign, spearheaded by Vice Premier Wu Yi, had been a valuable experience and it praised the hard work of the inspectors. Pu reasserted that the foreign press had over-hyped the problem with hysterical reporting. “Some of the problems were dealt with in an appropriate and timely way by our close cooperation with related countries and regions, and had neither serious consequences nor seriously negative influences,” Pu added.

Food safety problems are pronounced in China’s vast countryside, where oversight small factories contributed to a rash of food poisonings. Pu said one of this year’s objectives would be to step up supervision there. “We must fight to basically solve the question of their unstable product quality and lack of safety in the shortest possible time,” he added. At least 13 babies died of malnutrition in Anhui province after they were fed fake milk powder and four children died after eating a dried-noodle product.

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