The United Nations is calling on China to create a unified system of ensuring the safety of its food products, in the wake of a tainted-milk scandal that has taken on global implications.
The U.N.'s World Health Organization released a report today (Wednesday) urging Beijing to set up a single regulatory agency that controls the safety of food products from the farm to the table.
The report says China's oversight of food products is split between numerous agencies and their tasks complicated by numerous laws and regulations.
WHO food safety chief Jorgen Schlundt says the cumbersome system resulted in a slow response when the tainted milk scandal initially broke in September.
Chinese milk producers added the industrial chemical melamine in their products to make it appear richer in protein. Melamine can cause kidney stones, and even life-threatening kidney failure in some cases.
More than 50-thousand children were sickened and four infants were killed after consuming the products. The scandal has led to the arrest of 27 people in China, and the recall or prohibition of Chinese-made milk products by more than 50 nations.
In a related development, U.S.-based retailer Wal-Mart says it is establishing stricter safety and environmental standards on its Chinese suppliers.
Mike Duke, vice chairman of Wal-Mart's international division, says suppliers will be directly responsible for the work produced by their subcontractors.