Bejing China's premier ordered increased vigilance over food and drug safety Friday as the Cabinet announced a new regulation that mandates stronger supervision and outlines hefty punishments for makers of dangerous goods.
The twin actions highlighted the leadership's focus on winning back international confidence in its exports, which have been found to contain potentially dangerous levels of chemicals and toxins.
"Food safety and product quality should be our top priority," Premier Wen Jiabao was quoted as saying on the government's Web site. "It is not only an urgent task, but an arduous and long-term task."
Wen is the highest-ranking leader to address the issue since global alarm was triggered earlier this year, when a pet food ingredient from China was linked to the deaths of cats and dogs in North America.
Since then, a slew of exports - from toothpaste to tires to seafood - have been recalled or rejected around the world.