China’s food safety policy under scrutiny again

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 8th January 2010

Fresh questions have been raised about China’s food safety policy after it emerged that officials waited almost a year before going public with its latest probe into alleged melamine contamination in milk.

According to local reports, Chinese officials waited 11 months before revealing that they were investigating another alleged case of melamine being used in milk production.

Food safety authorities in Shanghai last week announced they had shut down the Shanghai Panda company after discovering it was selling milk included in the 2008 scandal that should have been destroyed.

China’s fledgling dairy industry was brought to its knees in 2008 when 300,000 babies were taken ill and six died after drinking melamine-tainted Sanlu-brand infant formula.

Shanghai Panda was one of the nation’s smaller dairies among 22 companies originally implicated in the 2008 scandal, which was briefly shut by quality inspectors.

Reports suggested that officials began investigating the company as early as February last year but was allowed to resume production after promising to improve product safety.

Investigations are understood to have started again two months later and three unnamed company executives were detained and formally arrested in June.

China Daily said it was told by a quarantine official that the case was withheld because it was under criminal investigation by police, adding that the Chinese government was informed “immediately” after the case was found and all harmful products were seized. However, it is not clear when officials started any recalls.

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