China: Food poisoning deaths up in 2007
Food poisoning deaths in China rose by about one-third in 2007, the state-run news agency reported Sunday amid ongoing scrutiny over the safety of the country's food production chain.
Citing figures from the Ministry of Health, Xinhua News Agency said 258 people were killed last year, up 32 percent from the previous year. The report said that while the number of deaths rose in 2007, overall cases of food poisoning fell to 506, 26 percent less than the previous year.
"Most of the fatal food poisoning incidents were caused by toxic seafood, meat and produce," Xinhua said.
It was not possible to verify whether the figures included all the food poisoning cases in China, a country of 1.3 billion people. Many cases in rural areas, where food is often mislabeled and sanitation problems are common, go unreported or are covered up by local authorities.
A series of product safety scandals last year involving domestic and exported foods has pushed the government to launch measures to restore public confidence. And with the Beijing Olympic Games approaching in August, authorities have pledged to take rigorous measures to ensure food safety.
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