China is to launch a “crackdown campaign” on foods tainted with illegal and excessive chemicals, according to a leading agricultural official. The move comes as China’s international record for product safety comes under increasing pressure.

China has been hit with a barrage of bad press as products made in the country and exported to international markets have been involved in safety scandals. Episodes have included tyres, food and toys.

According to a report by Reuters, minister of agriculture Sun Zhengcai has defended China’s record saying: “Judging from monitoring, the acceptability rate of China’s agricultural products is higher than it’s ever been.”

Speaking in the official People’s Daily, Sun said there would be stiff action against farmers and producers who used banned chemicals to boost yields and profits.

“This crackdown campaign will be no mere formality,” Sun said.

Reuters said that among targeted practices will be use of chloramphenicol, malachite green and other potentially toxic banned chemicals in raising seafood.