New administration outlines China’s tough food-safety agenda

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Codex alimentarius

New administration outlines China’s tough food-safety agenda
China’s new administration is continuing to demonstrate its newfound determination to tackle longstanding food-safety problems by issuing a blueprint of measures it plans to take this year.

Just weeks after it reorganised and renamed​ the erstwhile Chinese State Food and Drug Administration, and subsequently elevated it to a ministry-level agency, the country’s cabinet has sent a circular detailing an agenda for the action it will take to crack down on lax safety standards.

Protecting consumers

Issued by the State Council, the document says that authorities will examine the country's food industry to root out nefarious practices that result in substandard products reaching consumers, and called for an overhaul of food safety loopholes in planting, breeding, slaughter, production, distribution and catering, as well as import and export.

The document said there will be a particular focus on illegal additions of inedible substances into food and misuses of additives, adding that one of the government’s inspectors’ key tasks was to eradicate secret sites for food production.

The cabinet also ordered greater efforts in checking for the addition of banned items to animal feed, agricultural chemicals and veterinary drugs, as well as the use of agricultural chemicals and veterinary drugs beyond prescribed scopes.

The authorities will also aim to improve the inspection of licensed slaughter houses and related quarantine efforts, according to the circular.

Food-tracking system

Moreover, China intends to ramp up efforts for the construction of a national electronic food-tracking system to make infant formula, ingredient milk, meat, vegetables, liquor and wine, as well as dietary supplements more traceable.

The government has also pledged that standards concerning volumes of pathogenic microorganisms like bacteria, the use of food additives, and levels of residue from pesticides and veterinary drugs in food products will be improved before the end of the year.

National product standards for honey and edible vegetables as well as relevant standards of testing methods will also be improved by the end of 2013.

Calling for efforts in forming a food safety credibility system, the Cabinet urged a "blacklist" system to be set up to publicise the names of firms who fail to be honest in its business, a move intended to promote self-discipline initiatives in the food industry.

Have your say: Do you think food safety will finally improve in China through measures like these? What else must the country do to bring the issue into line? Let us know in the box below.

Related topics: Policy, Food safety, East Asia, China

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