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China Begins to Clean Up Its Act

Published on 8 July, 2007, Last updated at 12:55 GMT
 
WASHINGTON POST
08/07/2007

Amid a growing furor over toxic food and drug exports from China came signs last week that the Chinese government is cracking down.

On Tuesday, China released a study showing that nearly one-fifth of food and consumer products sold to its own people are tainted or substandard, suggesting that items sold domestically are even more hazardous than those that have touched off scandals abroad.

And on Friday, a former bureaucrat in China's drug regulation agency, Cao Wenzhuang, was sentenced to death for taking bribes.


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The results of the study were particularly nauseating. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said regulators tested a broad range of food, clothing, farm machinery, fertilizers and other products during the first half of this year.

The results: 19.1 percent of products tested were substandard, including baby formula and animal feed. Canned fruit and dried fish were contaminated by bacteria. And some children's products were laced with harmful chemicals.

In recent weeks, Beijing has taken steps to improve product safety. Inspectors have closed 180 factories so far this year, seizing tons of tainted candy, pickles and seafood. And Cao's death sentence follows a similar verdict for his boss, Zheng Xiaoyu, who was condemned in May for taking bribes to approve substandard -- and sometimes lethal -- medicines.


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