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China raises food safety inspection target rate to 98% by 2020

2019-07-31 17:29 Wednesday


China has unveiled a set of ambitious new food safety targets, aimed at alleviating worries from nervous consumers and improving the country’s standing as a producer of high-quality and reliable consumer products.

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The news comes after a number of food scandals have, in recent years, shaken international confidence in China’s record of delivering safe, dependable ingredients to buyers.

The proposal was made and published as a joint effort by academics, enterprises, government units, associations, grassroots, and consumer representatives, under the auspices of the Commission on Food Safety of the State Council.

The new set of proposals specifies two main goals: first, to ensure that 98% of all products fulfil spot-check requirements by 2020; and, secondly, to transform the nation's food safety standards so that they will be regarded as the best in the world by 2035.

According to experts, this is the first time such that a proposal on this topic has been released jointly by the Central Committee of the Communist Party and the State Council.

By 2020, more than 97 percent of China's agricultural products should pass food safety inspection test, while more than 98 percent of its edible products should fulfil the requirements of spot-check, officials stated.

The risk analysis and supply chain management systems governing food safety should rapidly develop and be improved at the same time.

By 2035, officials hope to have created the world's most advanced food safety governing system, monitoring the food chain from “farm to dinner plate”.

As part of the measures, environmental pollution at manufacturing sites should be placed under control and manufacturers should develop a better sense of integrity and responsibility, leading to a sharp drop in wrongful, profit-motivated misbehaviour.

The proposal also states ten action plans to be completed within 5 years, that will span across different areas, including everyday foods, baby foods, healthy eating products, food services and agriculture

One of the action plans sets out to stem the prevalence of fake and low quality food products in rural areas, shut illegal factories, and better account for use-by dates, certified logos, and supplier traceability.

With the announcement of the new proposal, China also hopes to revive confidence in its infant formula industry, which was hit hard by a melamine scandal. It suggests an industry-regulated system where manufacturers would follow the HACCP (hazard analysis and critical control points) methodology and conduct risk analysis.

Authorities also intend to help infant formula manufacturers to restructure their businesses.

As for the health food industry, the government pledges to continue to combat fake advertisements, false claims and multi-level marketing scams.

While efforts towards improving the food safety landscape in China has increased, there was nonetheless, still a big gap between the demands of the public and reality, said a representative from the Commission on Food Safety of the State Council during a press conference.  

As there was still a need to bolster efforts meant at addressing food safety issues at face value, the root cause of food safety issues has yet to be resolved, the representative further noted.

Some the problems, as stated in the proposal, included micro-organism contamination, heavy metal pollution, and the absence of set standards to regulate the use of additives. Other problems include manufacturers putting profits before safety, and food safety problems brought by international imports.

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