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China to Solve Aquatic Product Safety Problem
The Chinese government has vowed to improve aquatic product safety in China after a ban on some unsafe goods was imposed early this year by the European Union (EU).

"I almost lost everything," said Wei Wenkun, owner of an aquatic product processing enterprise in Qingdao, one of the most important export bases of aquatic products in China.

The EU imposed the ban on the grounds that traces of chloramphenicol, an antibiotic, residue were detected in samples of shrimp and prawns imported from China.

"My business is severely crippled by the EU's ban," Wei said. "I have to suffer a loss of at least seven million US dollars this year."

Though confident in the safety and quality of his own aquatic products, Wei put a great amount of money into the purchase of advanced monitoring equipment and his staff's safety education on aquatic product processing.

Wei is not the only one trying to improve the quality and safety of Chinese aquatic products, thereby winning back the reputation of China's aquatic products.

Qi Jingfa, Chinese vice-minister of agriculture, addressed the opening ceremony of the 2002 China Fisheries and Seafood Expo in Qingdao Tuesday, saying China is to "spare no efforts" to tighten quality examinations and control over aquatic products and to solve the safety problem "as soon as possible".

A national scheme against the leaving of residues in aquatic products has been carried out since autumn this year. China has already set up a complete system of quality monitoring and control over aquatic products, and aquatic product processing factories are required to record their daily production and usage of medicine. Their purchase and replenishment of raw materials also have to be recorded and undergo strict scrutiny, Qi said.

Regular education on proper usage of fish medicine is also available now to ordinary fishermen in China's many fishing regions, added Qi.

"You can examine my product wherever and by whatever means you want, even in the EU's lab," Wei Wenkun said, referring to the EU's lifting of the ban on Chinese aquatic products except shrimp.

(Xinhua News Agency October 30, 2002)

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