(MWC News) China has executed the former head of its food safety watchdog for corruption as authorities come under growing pressure over a series of tainted food scandals. Zheng Xiaoyu was sentenced to death in May after he was convicted of bribery for accepting cash and gift worth more than $800,000 in return for approving sub-standard drugs. One drug involved in the case – an antibiotic – has been blamed for causing the death of at least 10 patients.

Mystech: Now while it is arguable that China is cracking down as much for its trade/export concerns as its own domestic health concerns… can you imagine if fraudulent and harmful claims by US-based company CEOs were held to this same standard? Weekly news articles about one company or another having intentionally obfuscated dangerous side effects, contamination or quality issues might clear up fast. :-)

News of Zheng’s execution on Tuesday was confirmed by food safety officials as they pledged to step up efforts to ensure stricter quality controls.

The unusually heavy sentence meted out to Zheng, 63, is being seen as an effort by the government to demonstrate its determination to address the country’s dire product safety record.

Zheng headed the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), which sets standards for food and drug safety, from 1998 until he was sacked in 2005.

China has been faced with mounting domestic and international pressure to overcome problems arising from sub-standard products, including exported food, fake drugs and other potentially toxic or dangerous products.

‘Shameful acts’
“The few corrupt officials… are the shame of the whole system and their scandals have revealed some very serious problems”

Yan Jiangyang, State Food and Drug Administration

Yan Jiangyang, a spokeswoman for the SFDA, confirmed the execution at a press conference in Beijing.

“The few corrupt officials… are the shame of the whole system and their scandals have revealed some very serious problems,” she said.

“We should seriously reflect and learn lessons from these cases. We should step up our efforts to ensure food and drug safety, which is what we are doing now and what we will do in the future,” she said.

Yan said the SFDA was working to tighten its safety procedures and create a more transparent operating environment.

“As a developing country, China’s current food and drug safety situation is not very satisfactory because supervision of food and drug safety started late,” she told reporters.

“Its foundation is weak so the supervision of food and drug safety is not easy.”