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China has a bad history with food safety, most notably the baby formula-melamine crisis in 2008, which sickened more than 6,000 babies, and eventually saw the execution of company officials responsible for the contamination.

But now authorities from China’s Ministry of Health have pledged to improve food safety regulations, particularly for milk and dairy products.

The move was prompted by another melamine scare, involving a seizure of 64 tons of milk powder contaminated with 500 times the acceptable limit of toxic melamine. In China, melamine is added to milk in order to make it appear to have a higher protein level; not sure what the point of that is.  

But melamine is very dangerous. It can cause renal failure in humans.

At a news conference at the Ministry of Health, Deputy Secretary for Health Supervision Chen Rui told reporters, “China attaches great importance to food safety, particularly dairy quality and safety,” and, “The ministry will continue to organize the national dairy safety standards to track evaluations, listen to the food production companies and consumer opinion and constantly revise and improve the national dairy safety standards.”

Last month, the U.S. Department of Agriculture put the screws to China’s food safety too, booting a Nebraska organic food inspecting company from doing business in China because of improper operations, such as using Chinese government employees to inspect farms on state-owned land.

Image credit: Ethnocentrics