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Chinese Food Regulator's Death 'Accidental'

Officials deny suicide rumors after head of China's food safety watchdog died when he fell from a building on August 2 amid a probe into his financial status.

BEIJING (AP) -- The head of China's food safety watchdog has died in an accident, an official said Wednesday, amid a probe into his financial status.

A spokeswoman for the agency said Wu Jianping died after falling from a building in an accident on Aug. 2. She denied a media report that the 42-year-old official committed suicide after a meeting with investigators about his financial problems.

"His incident was an accident. He fell from a building," said Xia Wenjun of the news department of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

The spokeswoman refused to elaborate, saying she had no more information to provide.

Wu was appointed head of food production supervision at the organization with responsibilities to control food safety quality. China has faced a series of food safety problems after its exports, including dumplings and fish tainted with pesticides, came under heavy scrutiny last year.

On Tuesday, financial journal Caijing Magazine quoted unidentified sources as saying that Wu jumped to his death a day after he discussed his financial problems with Beijing's prosecution bureau.

It said Wu reported to the authority his financial status, including a number of properties and hundreds of thousands of yuan in cash deposits that he possessed. Wu did not return home after the meeting, the report said.

Official corruption is deeply rooted in China and cases of officials taking kickbacks or bribes is common, even though the government has pledged to step up crackdowns.