China executes ex-state FDA head amid product safety crisis

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China executed its former top food and drug administration regulator on Tuesday, sending a strong message that it is serious about tackling its product safety crisis.

Zheng Xiaoyu, 63, served as head of China’s State Food and Drug Administration from 1997 to 2006.

Zheng was sentenced to death for taking bribes totaling $832,000 to approve untested medicines.

During Zheng’s tenure, the agency approved six medicines that turned out to be fake, with at least one antibiotic responsible for the deaths of at least 10 people, according to Chinese state media reports.

Zheng was sentenced to death on May 29, with an appeal of his sentence rejected on June 12 by the Higher People’s Court of Beijing and approved by China’s Supreme Court.

The quick implementation of Zheng’s sentence comes as China has struggled to undo the damage created by months of negative headlines about unsafe exports including tainted pet food, toothpaste laced with an unsafe industrial chemical and seafood containing antibiotics and additives.

Chinese officials are also concerned about reassuring the world that the 2008 summer Olympics in Beijing will not be impacted by food and product issues.

"All the procedures involving Olympic food, including production, processing, packaging, storing and transporting, will be closely monitored," Sun Wenxu, an official with the State Administration for Industry and Commerce said in a published report.

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