Nearly 15 percent of Chinese food products failed a recent quality check, the government said on Friday in a report that nonetheless sought to reassure rattled consumers that tainted products are disappearing from shelves.
Beijing's latest counter-blast against worries over rancid, toxic and steroid-laden food and drink comes after another week of safety woes for the export giant.
Mattel Inc., the largest U.S. toy company, recalled 18.2 million more Chinese-made toys due to hazards from small magnets and lead paint. Earlier this month, Mattel had recalled 1.5 million preschool toys made by a China-based contractor.
China also said this week it would send officials to the United States to discuss product safety following a spate of scares, including seafood tainted with antibiotics and toxic chemicals in toothpaste and animal food ingredients.
The 39-page paper from China's State Council Information Office -- the government PR wing -- sought to reassure rattled consumers with a welter of statistics and previously announced measures it said showed the country's food was safe and getting safer.
An official nationwide inspection in the first half of 2007 found 85.1 percent of food products met quality standards, compared with 77.9 percent in a 2006 inspection.
Through these efforts, the overall level of China's food quality is steadily rising, stated the paper.
China is still a developing country and the general level of food safety, including standards and industrialization of production, still has a certain gap with developed countries.
The paper announced no new initiatives and similar numbers have been released before. It did not explain how the food inspection reached its findings.
Yet the sheer volume of Beijing's statements on safety underscores how worried the government is that its reputation is being stained and valued consumers are worried.
The country had 448,000 food processing businesses, but the domestic market was dominated by larger and generally safer producers, said the paper.
The 2007 inspection result may represent an improvement, but it also meant that 14.9 percent of foods failed rules for labels, storage and contents.
In July, China said 19.1 percent of all goods that inspectors checked in the first half of this year failed quality standards.
China would continue pressing stricter standards on food producers and exporters, and was also willing to work with foreign governments to improve regulation, the paper said.
The Chinese government will further intensify its attack and be resolute in not letting substandard foods leave the country, it said.