You would have to say that the Chinese Government is at last getting serious about quality control. On Tuesday the country’s former drug and food safety watchdog chief was executed after being found guilty of corruption and dereliction of duty.

Zheng Xiaoyu, 62, who ran the State Food and Drug Administration from 1998 to 2005, was convicted of taking bribes worth some 6.5 million yuan ($A996,000) from eight companies. The China Daily reported that Zheng’s death sentence was unusually heavy even for China, and indicated “the leadership’s determination to confront the country’s dire product safety record.”

The food security issue burst into the international spotlight after tainted additives exported from China contaminated pet food in North America. Subsequent exports of toxic medicines, foods and toys, including, as reported in Crikey, a toothpaste that had to be withdrawn from sale in Australia, have begun to threaten China’s reputation.

Less than a week ago inspectors in southern China found nearly half of mobile phone batteries and liquor tested to be below standard. The tests on the phone batteries were carried out after a migrant worker was killed in the northwestern province of Gansu last month when his mobile phone battery exploded in his chest pocket. In a similar incident, a worker was injured in Guangdong’s provincial capital, Guangzhou, last month.

Reuters quoted the official Legal Daily saying tests conducted by Guangdong province’s bureau of industry and commerce showed that 40% of mobile phone batteries were defective, including recharging capacity that was less than labeled.

Also last week the Guangdong Express said nearly half its tests of liquor sold in markets in the area showed the products were substandard, containing excessive additives or ingredients inconsistent with labels.

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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