A new Chinese food tracking system that is designed to radically improve safety has met with opposition from major manufacturers.

The new system, which has been incorporated into draft law, will allocate each product a unique code allowing it to be tracked at each stage of production and distribution.

However, manufacturers are saying it will fail to address the problem while significantly adding to production costs.

Once the new system comes into full law in 2009, it will be illegal to sell food without the code.

Reports in the Chinese media say companies such as Mars, Nestlé, Coca-Cola and PepsiCo have raised concerns about the proposed system, believing it could lead to price rises of up to 15%.

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Opponents are also claiming the system does not apply to small companies which are the cause of the majority of food safety breaches.

Li Yu, scientific and regulatory affairs director of Mars China, was reported as saying: “The system is of little use in ensuring product safety, as it doesn’t deal with the quality of raw materials.

“Also, the system doesn’t apply to small food plants, and they have the most problems.”

It is believed the government will work with companies to solve problems as they arise, say reports.