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National Food Safety Campaign to Be Launched This Month

The government will launch a nationwide campaign later this month to improve food safety and to better protect children and teenagers from health hazards, spokesman for the campaign's leading group Cheng Zhigang said Sunday.

Initiated by China Soong Ching Ling Foundation in August, the campaign was launched jointly by 11 government departments, including the National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC), the ministries of Education, Agriculture, Commerce and Health, and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

"Its goal is to spread (the message of) food safety and nutrition knowledge among children and their parents, help youngsters acquire healthy dietary habits and regulate the domestic food market", Cheng said.

Campaign organizers will adopt tangible measures, including setting up a special fund for children's food safety, formulating national standards for food quality catering for children and supervising food quality in groceries and supermarkets in rural areas.

According to official figures, the country has more than 400 million children under the age of 18.

Several leading domestic food and beverage firms, too, have been involved in this endeavor, and they include the country's leading fruit juice maker Huiyuan Group, which became the campaign's first strategic partner.

"The reason why our company began making the country's first series of tailor-made nutritious juice products for children after 15 years of manufacturing experience is because we regard food quality as the top priority," Huiyuan Chairman Zhu Xinli said.

"The world's most advanced sterilized cold filling technique is used in the manufacturing process, and all the packaging materials are environment-friendly materials," project manager of the juice custom-made for children Li Ying said.

Chinese industries have featured in numerous reports on substandard products, especially food, in recent months. "The country's future are our children and food and beverage companies should provide them with healthy and nutritious food," said Zhu, who is also a member of the campaign's expert panel.

Responding to the reported scandals, the Chinese government introduced a new recall system in summer, and began a four-month nationwide product quality campaign that ends this month. Also, it implemented measure that makes it mandatory for all food exports to carry inspection and quarantine seals.

Vice Premier Wu Yi called on the country's quality watchdogs on November 30 to beef up quality checks of food before the Christmas and New Year holidays.

(China Daily December 10, 2007)

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