BEIJING, Oct. 23 (Xinhua) -- China's top legislature
on Thursday started to review a draft law on food safety, which sets stricter
food quality standards and demands greater government responsibility.
The draft, which was revised after the recent
contaminated dairy products scandal, would ban all chemicals and materials other
than authorized additives in food production.
Health authorities are responsible for assessing and
approving food additives and setting their usage. "Only those proved to be safe
and necessary in food production are allowed to be listed as food additives,"
the draft says.
Food producers must strictly stick to the food
additives and their usage approved by authorities, according to the draft
In the tainted dairy products scandal, melamine,
often used in the manufacturing of plastics, was added to sub-standard or
diluted milk to make protein levels appear higher. At least three infants died
and more than 50,000 were sickened after drinking the contaminated milk.
The draft also prohibits food safety supervision
authorities from issuing inspection exemptions to food producers.
China began exempting companies producing
globally-competitive products from quality inspections in 2000 to help them
avoid repeated examinations and reduce their burden.
The practice encountered severe criticism when it was
discovered that many of the companies producing and selling melamine-tainted
dairy products had national inspection exemption qualifications.
The draft was tabled to lawmakers at a bimonthly
session of the Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress