Huge quality inspection sweeps Guangdong cities

PUBLISHED : Friday, 30 November, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 30 November, 2007, 12:00am

Hundreds of officials, headed by Vice-Premier Wu Yi , embarked on two days of spot checks on food safety and product quality in Guangdong yesterday in the biggest effort of its kind to hit the province, according to Guangdong officials.

More than 320 ministerial and provincial representatives fanned out in the morning across 11 cities, from Zhaoqing to Chaozhou and Qingyuan to Shantou , Guangdong Food and Drug Administration official Zhang Binggui said.

Mr Zhang said it was the first time so many delegates from around the mainland had conducted inspections focused on the province.

Government sources said Ms Wu inspected some sites in Foshan yesterday, including a fishery in Shunde district, and would preside over a general meeting in Guangzhou today.

Mr Zhang said it was the third in a series of special spot checks on product quality and food safety, following audits in Zhejiang in September and Shandong last month.

He said the earlier inspections focused on individual food workshops, small restaurants and agricultural products.

'This time in Guangdong, the inspection groups will mainly talk about the state of drug safety and the quality of export products,' Mr Zhang said.

The assessments are part of a four-month special campaign against poor product quality that began in August in response to a series of safety scares involving mainland-made products.

The campaign, described by Ms Wu as a special war to protect the public and to safeguard the made-in-China label, will run to the end of the year.

To prepare for the national inspections, Guangdong began sending its own working parties to all 21 cities last month.

'I have been staying in Shantou for more than a month to carry out special inspections,' said Kong Xiangpei, a provincial quality supervision official.

Mr Kong's duties involved assessing thousands of businesses in the area, including toy factories and small food manufacturers.

In Shenzhen yesterday, top safety officials concentrated their efforts on retail outlets and private enterprises.

A team of dozens of officials led by Wu Zhen , deputy director of the State Food and Drug Administration, began their spot checks at Hong Kong-based Yongqin Toys Industry Company and ended the day at the Hanyu Pharmaceutical Company.

The inspection group also visited six other sites, including a shopping mall, a school canteen and a wet market.

All the outlets singled out for assessment were well prepared in advance and almost half the stalls at the Huaqiaocheng wet market were closed before the group arrived for their 15-minute noon tour.

A wet-market stall owner said the inspection was just a political front, complaining that stallholders were ordered to upgrade the market more than a month ago in preparation for the 15-minute check.

'We were told to combine two stalls into one, which made the market clean and big,' he said. 'The monthly rent will increase soon from 700 yuan to 1,000 yuan after the renovation. It means we will have to pay for the inspection show.'

Some customers also said the spot check was an inconvenience.

'Many stalls are closed today,' one housewife said. 'I'll have to pay more than usual to buy food at the supermarket.'

So far in the campaign, Guangdong has seized more than 402 million yuan in illegal products and closed nearly 45,000 uncertified companies.

The province has jailed 28 people and police have detained 53.

Safety first

The inspections are in response to the series of recent food scares that hit the mainland

The number of food producers in Guangdong inspected by quality supervision officials is 1,212

and the number of batches of food for export examined is 20,000