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The Los Angeles Times reports this morning that Chinese officials are “stepping up their damage-control efforts after a recent slew of scandals involving tainted food and drugs.”

"Yes, we have had some problems with the food safety of Chinese products. However, they are not that serious," says Li Dongsheng, vice minister of the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. "We should not exaggerate those problems. We do not want to cause panic."

According to the story, “The government said Tuesday that it had conducted more than 10 million food market inspections last year and discovered problems in 360,000 businesses, of which about half have been shut down. Without giving details, officials also said 16,000 tons of substandard food had been banned from the market … Officials say they test about 100,000 random samples each year from local supermarket shelves. Only about 5% don't make the cut, said Lu Yong, a deputy director at the Beijing Food Safety Administration.”

The stakes are large, and go beyond the export market – officials are concerned that the food safety problems could cast a cloud over the upcoming 2008 Olympics.
KC's View:
We actually are going to be in China next week, attending the annual CIES World Food Business Summit in Shanghai…and we’ll be interested to see how food safety issues are handled. We’ll also be interviewing a number of executives for a video we’re producing about food safety for the 2008 CIES Food Safety Conference…so the insights should be fascinating.