In the wake of several food scandals over the past few years, Chinese authorities are stepping up their efforts to enhance food safety laws and food inspection regulations.
At the recent Fifth Annual China International Food Safety & Quality (CIFSQ) Conference + Expo, held in Beijing, China, Mr Tairan Li, Director, Division of Food Safety Major Incidents Supervision, at the Chinese Ministry of Health, said while China has virtually overhauled its food safety laws, the government still face mounting challenges in this area.
The problem arises due to the inconsistent methods, procedures, equipment, and resources used in the different provinces, he commented.
In addition, there were also issues with law of enforcements between provincial and national governments. “The authorities have yet to establish clear lines of control and responsibility and they need to properly list out the procedures for food safety monitoring,” noted Li.
In addition, continued the ministry spokesperson, the lack of professional expertise in food testing has undermined food hygiene and quality standards, and this coupled with insufficient funds in ensuring state-of-the-art equipment was threatening food safety in China.
Needless to say, the richer the province, the better equipped they are with testing procedures, resources and systems, said Li, who suggests that authorities ensure standardised testing procedures and equipment were implemented in every province.
Testing agencies have also recommended that the government establish clear lines of responsibility when it comes to the implementation of the regulations, and that the various organisations for food safety be centralised, and that any regulatory discrepancies be cleared up.
Professor Xiumei Liu from the National Institute of Nutrition and Food Safety told FoodNavigator-Asia, that food safety is not just the responsibility of the government.
“The initial responsibility lies with food manufacturers. But if the government provides more stringent laws and tighter enforcements, we would be able to move forward with food safety in China.”
Whie Liu acknowledged that fact that China still had a long road ahead in enhancing food safety and quality she reckoned that China’s food safety standards were in line with their international equivalents.