Friday, August 19, 2011

China Arrests 2,000 in Food Safety Crackdown

BEIJING–China has arrested around 2,000 people and closed nearly 5,000 businesses in a major crackdown on illegal food additives after a wave of contamination scares, the government said.

China launched the campaign in April following a spate of tainted food scandals — included toxic milk, dyed buns and pork found on the market so loaded with bacteria that it reportedly glowed in the dark.

Nearly six million food businesses have now been investigated as part of the crackdown, launched in an effort to shore up plummeting public confidence in Chinese-made food products.

More than 4,900 were shut down for “illegal practices”, the government’s Food Safety Commission said in a statement late Wednesday.

Police have also destroyed “underground” food production and storage sites, and arrested around 2,000 suspects, it said, adding that anyone found breaking the law would be severely punished.

“All regions and relevant departments will continue to carry out the crackdown on illegal food additives and firmly punish criminals and spare no effort to safeguard peoples’ food safety,” it said.

China has repeatedly pledged to clean up its vast food industry after milk products tainted with the industrial chemical melamine, added to give the appearance of high protein content, killed at least six babies and sickened 300,000 in 2008.

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