Debate delayed on China's revised food safety law
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BEIJING (AP) — China's
legislature has postponed debate on a revised food safety law, which is being
revamped in the wake of a major scandal over tainted milk, state media
A draft of the law was taken off the agenda of a bimonthly session of the
National People's Congress that started this week, the official Xinhua News
Agency said. Lawmakers are expected to take up debate in February.
The latest revisions to the food safety law were prompted by a scandal
earlier this year in which at least six babies were killed and nearly 300,000
others sickened after consuming milk products tainted by melamine, an
industrial chemical added to watered-down milk.
The scandal highlighted the widespread practice of adding melamine — often
used in manufacturing plastics — to fool protein tests. Melamine is rich in
nitrogen, which registers as protein on many routine tests.
Xinhua cited sources from the NPC's Standing
Committee as saying China's
Cabinet, the State Council, suggested the postponement because the country's
monitoring system and industry practices were still being evaluated.
A staffer from the office of the NPC Standing Committee, who declined to
give his name, confirmed the delay.
Though melamine is not believed to be harmful in tiny amounts, higher
concentrations produce kidney stones, which can block the ducts that carry
urine from the body, and in serious cases can cause kidney failure.
The crisis prompted authorities to announce a complete overhaul of the
country's dairy industry. The scare badly hit dairy exports, which fell 92
percent in October from the previous year, the official China Daily newspaper