BEIJING, April 2 (Xinhua) -- Nearly half of Chinese existing 1,176 dairy producers have failed to obtain new production licenses amid the government's efforts to shore up the scandal-tainted milk industry, China's top quality supervisor said Saturday.
Only 643 dairy producing companies, or about 55 percent of the country's total 1,176 milk enterprises, were granted licenses to continue production by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), Li Yuanping, a spokesman for AQSIQ, told Xinhua.
Li said quality supervision departments are canceling the production licenses of 553 dairy companies and have ordered the companies to halt production immediately.
Quality supervision government departments must strengthen their law enforcement activities to crack down on unlicensed production, he said.
Meanwhile, the AQSIQ demanded subordinate quality supervision government departments to strengthen supervision over those qualified dairy makers to guarantee the safety of their products.
China's dairy industry was severely harmed after a melamine-tainted baby formula scandal in 2008 undermined Chinese consumers' confidence in domestic brands.
In its annual working food safety campaign plan, the Chinese government ordered the establishment of a unified national database of dairy product manufacturers and a system to verify relevant certificates.
The plan requires the establishment of a registration system to record all purchases of melamine, a prohibited food additive that killed at least six infants and sickened 300,000 children across the country since 2008.