Crack-down continues as China closes 180 plants

By George Reynolds

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food

China's government has closed down about 180 plants after
inspections uncovered raw industrial materials in food

The inspections will continue as part of the government's crackdown on food safety, officials said today. While the ongoing inspections demonstrate a commitment to future food safety reform, the discoveries highlight the need importers to have proper track and trace controls in place to confirm the provenance of their products. The alarming list of substances found during inspections so far include paraffin wax, dyes and formaldehyde in such products as biscuits, flour and seafood, according to the Chinese newspaper, People's Daily​. According to the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, which is conducting the investigations, some processors were also found to be using recycled or expired food in their operations. To date, the about 180 plants have been shut down, with 37 having their licenses removed. Eleven cases are now being dealt through judicial proceedings. "These are not isolated cases,"​ said Han Yi, director of the administration's quality control and inspection department, who addressed a press conference. He said the inspections, which have focused on widely consumed foodstuffs such as meat, milk and oil, will continue, with rural areas and the suburbs the main targets. According to the administration, most of the cases have involved small, unlicensed operations with less than ten workers. The investigators may find they have their work cut out attempting to cover the whole country. While China's Food Hygiene Law and the Criminal Law forbid the use of chemical ingredients or harmful substances in food production, about 75 per cent of the one million processors spread across the country are estimated to be small, private operations. Since the nationwide operation was launched in December 2006, quality inspectors have seized contaminated or substandard foodstuffs with an estimated value of 200 million yuan (€20 million), according to preliminary figurers released yesterday. Confiscation of products and site plant closure are the least of the worries for violators whose products are found to have killed or serious injury because those found guilty face sentences of at least 10 years in jail or the death penalty. Problems with Chinese exports have been subject to intense scrutiny since the discovery of the banned chemical, melamine, is shipments of feed and pet food sent to the US. The contaminated products were linked to the deaths of a number of animals.

Related topics: Food safety

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