Asian countries need better regulation, harmonised safety standards

By Ankush Chibber

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Food safety, Food

Asian countries need better regulation, harmonised safety standards
Like China, other Asian countries need a long-term regulatory mechanism to form a coordinated supervisory system if they are to enforce higher food safety levels, according to a white paper released last week.

According to The China Path to Global Food Safety​ paper issued by the Global Food Safety Forum, China is an example for other Asian countries as it has taken a step in this direction by creating the Food Safety Commission, and enacted a new food safety law in 2009.

In addition, the government also decided in 2011 to launch national overhauls in milk products, cooking oil, health foods, meat, and alcohol as well as starting a stringent action against the illegal use of additives in food.

The paper said that China and other Asian countries have seen safety concerns with residual chemicals, contamination and spoilage, veterinary and plant diseases, and intentional poisoning.

On the other hand, this is also an opportunity for companies to benefit from improved quality and product safety because consumers are willing to pay more for better, safer products, the paper said.

Third party certification

It recommended that the Chinese and Asian food industry should go in for third party audit certification as has been practised in the western world for years.

This becomes doubly important as some governments, such as the US, plan to use third-party certification to manage food safety controls on imports into their countries, the paper said.

In 2009, 70 per cent of the apple juice, 43 per cent of the processed mushrooms, 22 per cent of the frozen spinach, and 78 per cent of the tilapia Americans ate came from China, the paper noted.

The paper also stressed that certification and harmonization in food safety standards in China will reduce transaction costs as a whole, and that an industry collaboration network is needed to provide the platform for this.

“Compliance with strict standards will help improve consumers’ confidence, build positive image for food product and companies, eliminate barriers for food trade, and reduce the negative effect on social stability for countries like China,” ​the paper said.

Related topics: Policy, All Asia-Pacific, Food safety

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