The New York Times reports that China will clamp down on foods tainted with illegal and excessive chemicals as it seeks to quell domestic and foreign alarm about toxins in meat, seafood and vegetables, the country’s top agriculture official said.

In the People’s Daily, Minister of Agriculture Sun Zhengcai said consumers had no reason to fear eating most of the nation’s farm produce, while the nation’s quality inspection agency announced comprehensive food export tagging in a bid to reassure customers.  “This crackdown campaign will be no mere formality,” Sun said.

However, product recall regulations announced last week also require manufacturers to stop production and sales, notify vendors and customers, and report to authorities when product defects are found, with fines of up to 50,000 yuan ($6,600) for failure to do so. Hmmm, will $6,000 be enough to give incentive enough to make food safety a part of everything China does?  We shall see.  I am off to China on September 8, 2007 to speak at a Food Safety Conference on the 12th.