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China to Step Up Surveillance over Food Safety

China will step up surveillance over the safety of farm products with the nation's first law on farm products safety expected to take effect on November 1, deputy agriculture minister Niu Dui said here Sunday.

"We must greatly strengthen the routine surveillance and spot check of farm products, publicize the results to the public timely and boost the safety awareness of farm products growers, processors and traders," he said at a promotion ceremony of the new law in Beijing's suburban Shunyi District.

Safety management is an important part of the agricultural modernization and is critical to boosting the international competitive edge of China's farm products, the deputy minister said.

Though there has been an improvement in the general situation of farm products safety, the reports of unsafe products were seen frequently in China.

The latest example is the hairy crabs exported to Taiwan. Taiwan health officials said they detected a carcinogen in a shipment of the crabs, though the crab farmers insist that the crabs are safe.

Niu said China has already set up a nationwide network of farm products quality inspection agencies, including 12 at national level, 311 at ministerial and 1,780 at provincial, municipal and country levels.

The government plans to take five years to make such a network more competent and efficient, he said.

(Xinhua News Agency October 23, 2006)

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