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Product-recall systems go into effect in China

China on Friday officially put in place systems to recall unsafe food and toys, one of its strongest steps yet to deal with recurring quality problems.
China Tainted Products
Chinese children try out toys at a mall in Shanghai Friday. Recall systems for unsafe food products and toys went into effect in China on Friday as part of a bid to improve product safety, state media said.AP
/ Source: The Associated Press

China on Friday officially put in place systems to recall unsafe food and toys, one of its strongest steps yet to deal with recurring quality problems.

China, a major global supplier, has been facing growing pressure to improve the quality of its exports after toxins were found in a long list of goods such as toothpaste and toys.

The recall systems — put in place by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection, and Quarantine — follow an earlier system set up for defective cars in 2005.

The administration oversees all products made in China and the measure appears to be targeted at goods manufactured for both domestic and global consumption.

The food recall system "is very important for further strengthening food production supervision and dealing with food safety emergencies effectively," AQSIQ said in a statement.

Food producers should voluntarily recall any potentially harmful products and investigate immediately, it said. Local quality supervision departments also should participate, it said.

AQSIQ will force a recall and issue a consumer alert if manufacturers fail to take actions or if a food safety incident occurs, the statement said.

The toy recall system requires producers to stop making and selling toys that are confirmed to have problems even if they are made in accordance with Chinese laws and standards, the agency said.

The manufacturers are also required to tell retailers to stop selling the products, it said.

It will "provide a powerful legal weapon for protection of children's health and life safety," AQSIQ said.

While authorities were initially reluctant to address the issue, the government has in recent weeks launched several sweeping measures to improve shoddy manufacturing practices and crack down on illegal businesses that have been at the heart of recent safety scandals.

Officials at all levels have promised to step up inspections in the country's long and murky supply chain, in which it is often difficult to trace the exact origin of components, chemicals and food additives.

Chinese state television launched a weeklong series of programs dedicated to defending the country's reputation as a safe maker of global goods.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, also issued with unusual speed a new regulation on food safety and set up a panel to oversee and improve overall quality.

This summer, Chinese-made toys have come under greater scrutiny after a series of high-profile recalls by Mattel Inc., the world's largest toy maker.

The latest involved 18.2 million Batman and Polly Pocket dolls and Barbie play sets, which were pulled from the shelves because of a revision of international standards in May that required safety warnings for toys with magnets or magnetic components not attached tightly.

Another 436,000 toy "Sarge" cars, based on a character from the movie "Cars," also were recalled because they contained lead.

Two weeks before, Mattel ordered a global recall of 1.5 million Fisher-Price infant toys made in China because of lead-contaminated paint. In June, about 1.5 million Thomas & Friends wooden railway toys, imported from China and distributed by the RC2 Corp., were recalled because of lead paint.

Chinese officials have said that Mattel should share a large part of the blame because of insufficient inspections and poor product designs on its part.

AQSIQ also announced Friday that it had detected harmful pine wood parasites in 13 batches of wooden packages used for goods imported from the U.S. this year.

China has announced more substandard imports from the U.S. in the wake of the accusations it was exporting defective goods.