SHANGHAI, China (AP) _ China's business hub of Shanghai will use
mobile testing units it says can verify the safety of most food
within 30 minutes, as fears grow at home and abroad over
contaminated Chinese products ranging from cough syrup to pet food.
All districts of the city have been equipped with ``food safety
testing vehicles and personnel," eliminating the need for
expensive and time-consuming laboratory tests, the official Xinhua
News Agency said in a report issued late Wednesday.
``The system can tell the safety of most food products within 30
minutes," Li Jie, deputy director of the Shanghai Food and Drug
Supervision Institute, was quoted as saying.
Separately, the Shanghai Daily newspaper said officials expect
to begin using the system to test meat and vegetables in local
markets by year's end, and use the results to enforce legal rulings
such as fines.
Such contaminated products have frequently led to illness
because of overuse of pesticides and chemical fertilizer, or by the
injection of liquids into meat to boost weight and sale prices.
The reports follow the announcement earlier Wednesday of a
nationwide crackdown on contaminated and unsafe food and drugs that
would compel companies to adopt standards used in food-importing
countries, a tacit recognition of the threat China's food safety
woes pose to farm exports.
Already this year, the U.S. government has blacklisted two
Chinese companies linked to a pet food ingredient tainted with the
chemical melamine that is blamed in the deaths of an unknown number
of cats and dogs.
China earlier this week announced the detention of managers at
the two firms, apparently on suspicion of mislabeling the exports
to avoid inspections.
Mississippi and Alabama have also banned catfish from China
after tests found ciprofloxacin and enrofloxacin, antibiotics
forbidden from use in the United States. Louisiana officials said
Monday they would begin testing Chinese seafood for the
Excessive antibiotic or pesticide residues have caused bans in
Europe and Japan on Chinese shrimp, honey and other products. Hong
Kong blocked imports of turbot last year after inspectors found
traces of malachite green, a possibly cancer-causing chemical used
to treat fungal infections, in some fish.
Within China, babies have died after being fed fake baby
formula, eggs have been impregnated with dangerous dyes to make
their yolks redder and raise their sale price, and children
injected with worthless rabies vaccine that's nothing but
Xinhua also cited an official with the Legislative Affairs
Office of the State Council, China's Cabinet, saying his department
was in the process of drafting amendments to the country's Food
Safety Law. No details were given.