Product complaints spur creation of safety body The central government has decided to set up a top food safety taskforce in an apparent attempt to restore worldwide faith in the 'made in China' label. Though it was not clear who would lead the top inter-agency body and what specific responsibilities it would be given, the taskforce, under the banner of the State Council's Quality and Food Safety Steering Group, would aim to better co-ordinate and tackle some of the major issues, Xinhua reported yesterday. The taskforce, announced following a council meeting chaired by Premier Wen Jiabao yesterday, is the latest in a series of measures the central government has initiated in recent months to address rising concerns over the country's food safety and product quality. Cough syrup contaminated by a mainland-produced ingredient used in antifreeze, melamine-tainted pet food and harmful toothpaste are just some of the substandard products linked to the mainland that have found their way on to the international market. The concern over the safety of mainland exports has prompted the United States to tighten scrutiny of imports, particularly food. After initially being reluctant to admit there was a major problem with its food safety and threatening tit-for-tat tactics against US exporters, Beijing has agreed to act on the problems, closing three factories linked to the exports of industrial antifreeze passed off as pure glycerin and supplies of melamine in North American pet food. It has also launched clampdowns on counterfeiting racketeers making fake toothpaste, Viagra and anti-malaria drugs. EU Consumer Protection Commissioner Meglena Kuneva visited the mainland this week to pressure the central government to ensure that safe products are being exported to the 27-nation bloc. During the visit, Beijing agreed to provide the European Union with detailed quarterly reports to prove it was dealing with complaints about potentially dangerous consumer product exports. The mainland had also agreed to hold bilateral meetings of experts with Japan, the No 1 recipient of its exports, to discuss food safety issues, Japanese Agriculture Minister Norihiko Akagi said after talks in Beijing yesterday with Li Changjiang, director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. At the State Council executive meeting, the cabinet also gave its approval in principle to a draft food and product safety regulation aimed at tightening supervision of production and cracking down on irregularities in food processing. A six-point guideline pledged to improve national food standards to bring them in line with international standards. Authorities will also step up quarantine and introduce a food recall mechanism holding manufacturers legally accountable for their products. Among other things, the council said it would push for more international co-operation on food safety issues and work to keep the public more informed on the quality and safety of mainland products.