According to China’s state-run news agency, Ma Xiuling and her husband Wu Guangquan – who has been sentenced to life imprisonment – were found guilty last Friday of deliberately adding industrial salt nitrite to fresh milk produced by a competitor in April this year.
Pingliang Municipal Intermediate People’s Court (in China's western Gansu province) heard that the couple, who are appealing against their sentences, had intentionally poisoned the milk as an act of revenge against a business rival following several disputes.
Late last week Chinese vice premier Li Kequiang’s called for “more forceful measures” to deal with food safety problems and to reduce related crimes.
In a letter written to a national meeting of food safety officials, Kequiang called for further efforts to ensure food safety to safeguard consumer confidence.
Improving food safeguards
Vice premier Hui Liangyu also urged authorities present at the meeting to “resolutely guard against major food safety incidents” by strengthening law enforcement and supervision of production.
And only last Friday, Chinese authorities held a national forum in Beijing to discuss how to deal with food safety problems through improved legislation and law enforcement.
At the meeting Li Jianguou, vice chairman and secretary general of top legislative body the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress said: “Food safety remains a social problem of wide concern. A series of major incidents in recent years has exposed the urgency and significance of strengthening legal construction on food safety.
Following the meeting, China announced that it would encode more detailed categories and punishments for food-safety related crimes, and revise laws and regulations to strengthen supervision.
Around 300 experts, academics and officials (from both central and local government) attended the forum.
The salt poisoning case is only the latest food safety scandal to taint China’s reputation for safe food, and follows other scares, including tainted infant formula and cooking oil collected from sewers.