In the wake of another melamine milk recall and a recent food safety crackdown, China’s state council has set up a high-profile food safety commission to address the nation’s food regulatory problems.
Yesterday the Chinese government announced that the commission will consist of three vice premiers and a dozen minister-level officials. The group aims to improve government coordination and enforcement and to solve systemic food safety problems.
“The reemergence of the tainted milk products is a sign that China’s food safety system is far from perfect,” Professor Wang Yukai told official Chinese media yesterday.
“With a powerful vice premier in charge of coordinating the government departments in dealing with food safety issues…the new commission is expected to spot problems with China’s current food safety system and to solve them before they lead to tragedies,” added Wang.
As part of its ongoing effort to find and destroy any melamine-tainted milk remaining on the market, the Chinese government announced Monday that it was recalling 170 tons of milk powder laced with the industrial chemical.
The tainted milk was supposed to be destroyed or buried in 2008–after it was tied to the deaths of six infants and around 300,000 illnesses–but authorities recently found that the product been repackaged and placed back into the marketplace.
The government effort to remove remaining tainted milk from store shelves was set to end yesterday. It remains unclear whether recent findings or the launch of the food safety commission will cause authorities to extend the campaign.