China's agriculture minister sought to reassure domestic consumers concerned about toxins in their food as officials launched a new program requiring all packaged food for export to have a quality guarantee label.
China will clamp down on food tainted with illegal or excessive chemicals, Sun Zhengcai was quoted as saying in the People's Daily newspaper. The move follows domestic and foreign concerns about recent reports of toxins in meat, seafood and vegetables.
"Consumers have no reason to fear eating most of the nation's farm produce," Sun told the newspaper, which is the mouthpiece of the ruling communist party. "Judging from our system of monitoring, the acceptability rate of China's agricultural products is higher than it's ever been."
From now on food packaged for export will not be allowed to leave the country if the product does not have an inspection and quarantine symbol, said the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine in a separate announcement. The new measure, which began Sept. 1 as part of a broader plan to improve quality standards, covers seafood, eggs, rice, vegetable, oil, wine and biscuits.
"The aim is to effectively curb illegal exports of food, protect the interests of legal export enterprises, strengthen consumers' confidence in the quality and safety of food made in China, and help trace and recall products that have problems," the supervisory agency said in a statement posted on its Web site. The agency also issued a notice for fruit exporters to participate in a registration system to ensure quality and safety. Inspection and quarantine work will be strengthened, it said.
China has in recent days adopted sweeping measures to reassure consumers at home and abroad that it takes product safety seriously after potentially hazardous toxins were found in products ranging from toothpaste to pet food ingredients.