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China Issues Emergency Circular on Food Safety

China's food watchdog issued an emergency circular on Wednesday to ensure food safety in the face of severe winter weather that has blocked transport and endangered supplies in much of central, eastern and southern China.

The State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) ordered all the local food and drug bureaus to tighten inspections of food production and sale facilities so as to prevent inferior or fake food from entering the market.

The snow, the heaviest in decades in many places, has been falling in China's east, central and southern regions since Jan. 10, causing building collapses, power blackouts, highway closures and crop destruction.

The SFDA ordered all local bureaus to maintain food market order and to prosecute law violations, noting supplies of some foods was already tight.

The extreme weather in the past two weeks hit as Chinese travelers began one of the world's biggest annual mass migrations for the Chinese Lunar New Year, or the Spring Festival, the most important festival for Chinese family gatherings.

The SFDA also ordered local bureaus to promptly report and tackle emergencies and prevent mass incidents of food poisoning.

(Xinhua News Agency January 30, 2008)

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