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Chinese lawmakers weigh harsh regulation on baby formula

Xinhua, April 20, 2015 Adjust font size:

Tougher regulations on infant milk formula set to be introduced in a bid to restore public confidence in the domestic dairy industry.

Producers will be required to register their powdered baby milk formula with the food and drug regulatory agency, according to a draft revision to the Food Safety Law, submitted to the bi-monthly legislative session of the National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee for its third reading on Monday.

In an earlier draft, submitted in December, the provision on powdered baby milk formula stipulated that firms should only ensure their formulas were on record.

There are more than 1,900 varieties of baby formula available in China and each company has around 20 varieties each, whereas in other countries firms produce and sell two or three, according to the Food and Drug Administration.

"Some producers [are creating] new formulas purely for the sake of marketing," said the lawmakers. "This review of infant formula legislation aims to ensure infant food safety."

In 2008 infant formula produced by the Sanlu Group, a leading dairy firm in north China, was found to contain melamine. Six babies died and thousands fell ill.

As a result, the first Food Safety Law was enacted in 2009 but public confidence in domestic baby formula has not recovered.

Such is China's demand for baby formula that several countries, including Australia, New Zealand and Germany, have limited export quotas on milk powder destined for China. Endit