Rogue dairies in China could face closure as the result of a government order for all dairy firms to apply for new production licenses this year.

The action is Beijing’s latest response to a massive 2008 scandal in which infant formula made from milk killed six children and sickened hundreds of thousands. Dairies had added the industrial chemical melamine to watered-down milk to make its protein content seem higher.

The official Xinhua news agency, citing a top food safety official, said dairies that fail to obtain new permits will not be allowed to continue production. “The requirement aims to improve quality and safety in the dairy industry,” Zhi Shuping was quoted as saying by Agence France-Presse.

Agra-net.com, which writes about the global agrifood industry, said the move “is aimed at weeding out the remaining enterprises which turn a blind eye to melamine-contaminated milk and milk powder.” A recent national survey found that almost 70 percent of the Chinese public is not confident about the safety of the country’s food supply.

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