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Food Safety Drive Stepped up

A nationwide grocery tracking system will be set up and a crackdown has been launched on unlicensed food vendors to ensure product quality and food safety, a senior official said yesterday.

By the end of the year, all food markets and supermarkets in cities above county level would have set up a tracking system requiring invoices and documents to be attached to goods, Zhou Bohua, director of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC), told a news conference.

All township, street-side and community groceries shall keep real-time business records.

The moves will allow inspectors to trace the origin of food products easily.

The official also vowed to "thoroughly" tackle all unlicensed small groceries and stores at township-level and above by the year-end.

"This is a special battle to protect people's health and basic interests, and safeguard the credibility and image of Chinese products," Zhou said.

According to official data, the authorities at various levels have inspected 372,000 enterprises and individuals, 17,332 marketplaces and 7,633 key areas in the past month.

In addition, inspectors shut down 9,098 unlicensed food vendors in the first seven months this year.

Food producers and sellers are under increased scrutiny with quality thresholds being raised for renewal or granting of licenses, Zhou said.

Those operating without a license will be shut down, he added.

It is estimated that there are more than 4.69 million food vendors in the country.

The crackdown is part of a nationwide four-month campaign started in late August to improve product and food safety.

In addition, a 1-year campaign has been initiated to improve food quality in rural areas.

(China Daily September 19, 2007)

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