PRODUCT STANDARDS : BEIJING INTRODUCES TOUGHER QUALITY STANDARDS.
CIQ, or China Inspection & Quarantine', reads the label to be affixed on food exported by China as a way of reassuring consumers worldwide. Indeed, consumer confidence in products made in China has eroded considerably in recent months.
Beijing has announced tougher quality standards, with effect from 1 September, for food earmarked for export. The decision comes in the wake of publication by China's Council of State of a white paper entitled Food quality and safety in China'.
Deputy Prime Minister Wu Yi has been appointed to head a group of government officials charged with supervising the system to be put in place.
Food packaging will now have to show the producer's name and address, batch number and date of production, with the aim of halting illegal exports.
Chinese Prime Minister Wen Jiabao has already committed to taking such measures, in particular at a meeting in July with EU Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva.
The list of products from China not fit for human consumption is long: banned dyestuffs discovered in sauces and rice cakes, carcinogenic moulds on dry fruit, residues of antibiotics in batches of honey and fish, traces of mercury in eels and stocks of genetically modified noodles.
Some 263 dangerous Chinese foods were reported in 2006, according to the European Commission's early warning network. For the first seven months of this year, "209 problems" have already been reported.