BEIJING (Kyodo) - China faces the risk of seriously damaging its international credibility if it does not tackle problems over food and drug quality, state-run media quoted a senior official of the food and drug watchdog as saying.
''Our country is facing a period of high risks for food safety,'' Sun Xianze, director of the food safety coordination department at the State Food and Drug Administration, was quoted as saying by the China Daily in an unusually strongly-worded warning.
Sun, who was speaking at a seminar held over the weekend, added that authorities faced an ''arduous task'' ahead, according to the newspaper.
The report also said that Chinese authorities revoked the production licenses of five drug manufacturers since last July as part of efforts to push unqualified producers out of the market.
Sun's comments come at a time when the discovery of hazardous chemicals in Chinese products including toothpaste and pet food has sparked concerns on international markets.
One recent development includes an announcement by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration that it will impose an import control on selected farm-raised seafood from China.
It said it will detain those products at the border until the shipments are proven to be free of residues from drugs that are not approved in the United States.
A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman said earlier this month that China's food safety problems are partly a result of misunderstandings brought about by exaggerations in media reports, and that truly questionable products are extremely rare.