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China to Overhaul Food Safety Rules

China promised Wednesday to overhaul its food safety rules, amid rising concerns abroad over the risks of consuming its produce .

"The top priority for building a food safety standards system is to revise as soon as possible the rules for farm produce and processed food," said the director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Liu Pingjun.

Liu said that at the end of 2006, some of China's 1,965 national food safety standards, of which 634 are mandatory, dated back 12 years. He pledged to ensure none of the rules were more than four and a half years old and complied with international standards, although the statement did not specify how that would be accomplished.

The revision follows recent global controversies over a range of Chinese products exported overseas ranging from toothpaste to herbal teas to pet food. US authorities rejected 257 Chinese food shipments in April, far more than from any other country, US press reports said.

The United States has rejected Chinese products ranging from tainted dietary supplements and toxic cosmetics to fish and herbal teas in recent months for poor hygiene standards.

China retorted earlier this month by returning health pill and food shipments from the United States for not reaching minimum safety standards, while also rejecting American pistachio nuts.


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