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Vice Premier Calls for Int'l Consultation on Food Safety

Vice Premier Wu Yi said in Beijing on Monday that international food safety issues should be settled through friendly consultation, instead of finger pointing and groundless blames.

Speaking at the High-Level International Food Safety Forum, she recognized that gaps existed between China and the "advanced level" of food safety monitoring around the world and called for international cooperation in this regard.

"I sincerely hope that developed countries can provide more help to developing countries to raise their standardization level, improve food production technology and strengthen food safety supervision," she said.

"We disagree with biased, incomplete reports and pure condemnation that are blind to the facts, and are opposed to setting trade barriers under pretext of food safety issues and politicizing the issues."

Wu said that food safety was a highest priority of the Chinese government and the country's efforts to improve food quality was paying off.

"The Chinese government, wholehearted in protecting the people's interests, is trying to guarantee adequate supply of food and to improve food quality.

"This year, the government has taken unprecedented special action to ensure product quality and food safety," she said, adding China aimed to set up "a monitoring network" to cover the whole society and the entire process of food manufacturing and selling.

She added that through years of efforts, China had also formed complete legal and standard systems in food safety.

China's food exports have remained more than 99 percent qualified for years, said Li Changjiang, director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), at the same forum attended by Vice Premier Wu.

In the first half of the year, 99.1 percent of the Chinese food exported to the United States and 99.8 percent of the exports to the European Union were up to standard, Li said.

Li also cited Japanese figures as saying that 99.42 percent of the Chinese food sold to Japan last year were safe, higher than percentages for food imported from the EU and the US.

"We have every reason to believe China will make new progress in food safety to further assure and satisfy consumers at home and around the world," Wu said.

Via video, WHO Director-General Margaret Chan gave positive assessment of China's efforts to improve food safety but warned that all countries should be alert to challenges posed by globalization to food safety, such as increasing incidence of food borne diseases.

China and many other countries have made great progress in improving food safety and increasing international competitiveness of their products, FAO official Yasuo Endo said on behalf of the FAO Director-General. But faced with the new challenges, the efforts should be stepped up, he said.

The High-Level International Food Safety Forum is co-hosted by China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Chinese Ministry of Health and the World Health Organization.

(Xinhua News Agency November 27, 2007)

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