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China: En Route to Better Food Safety

China is also seriously addressing overseas concerns over Chinese food exports. It has shut down the factory linked to dozens of deaths in Panama from tainted medicine, and two companies that exported tainted wheat and corn protein which end up in pet food in the United States and led to a number of dog and cat deaths in North America.

The country's top quality watchdog has announced that all major food exports produced from September 1 onwards must carry labels to show they have passed inspection so as to halt illegal exports and bolster consumer confidence in the quality and safety of Chinese foods.

The white paper reveals that the acceptance rate of Chinese foodstuffs exported to the EU stood at 99.8 percent in the first half, followed by those exported to the United States, with the acceptance rate of 99.1 percent.

Japanese quarantine authorities found Chinese food exports had the highest acceptance rate at 99.42 percent, followed by the EU (99.38 percent) and the United States. (98.69 percent).

However, a better food safety record will not come overnight, and people seem differed on what they should do as individuals.

Jing Luyan is fond of tasting different flavors of food, especially traditional Beijing snack food. However, traditional snacks are usually cooked in shabby restaurants in small alleys.

"I believe that the most delicious food can hardly ever be found in swanky establishments with irreproachable hygiene conditions," Jing said, adding that she never fell ill after eating food from street corner stalls.

Yang Fangfang, who has worked in foreign countries, including the United States, France, South Africa and Fiji, for several years, said the most important thing is to help citizens develop a sense of food safety.

Yang and his family have become much more cautious about food safety after the accident. "We carefully choose food for ourselves and our children, and will definitely teach them about the importance of food safety," he said.

"I believe the government supervision system will work in the long run, but right now people have no option but to learn to protect themselves," Yang said.

(Xinhua News Agency September 17, 2007)

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