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China Urges Long-term Food Safety Mechanism with Japan

China has again called for the establishment of a long-term bilateral cooperation mechanism with Japan for food safety.

China already has such a mechanism with the United States and the European Union and it is operating well, Wei Chuanzhong, deputy chief of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine told a news conference Wednesday.

"The two sides should establish the mechanism as soon as possible to strengthen cooperation on food safety so as to promote the healthy development of bilateral trade," he said.

The Chinese Ministry of Public Security (MPS) also said on Wednesday that it wished to see closer and more effective cooperation with Japanese police to find out the truth behind the recent incident of contaminated dumpling in Japan.

Japanese media reported 10 people fell ill in December and January after consuming frozen meat dumplings produced by Tianyang Food Plant based in Hebei Province in north China.

Japanese authorities found traces of methamidophos in the vomit of those poisoned and in food packages at their houses.

Tests, however, showed the rest of the dumplings from the same batches sold in Japan, totaling more than 2,000 packages, were safe. So were all the other products made by the Chinese company.

The investigation of the Chinese side focused on the production, packaging and transport of food products made by Tianyang Food Plant since the very beginning of the issue, but there lacks a full cooperation between Chinese police and the Japanese side.

The Ministry of Public Security said judging by the results of investigations by both sides, it tends to regard the incident as an isolated deliberate act of sabotage, not a food safety issue caused by pesticide residue.

The ministry suggested the establishment of a joint investigation team as soon as possible to thoroughly look into every possible link throughout the incident and find out the truth.

(Xinhua News Agency February 14, 2008)

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