Food safety will occupy higher place on agenda

By Shan Juan (China Daily)
Updated: 2011-03-02 15:53
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Beijing - The Chinese government's capacity to secure food safety will be improved by constant efforts to solve problems in the field, especially in supervision, said a key official of the central government.

Zhang Yong, who heads the office of the State Council Food Safety Commission, told Xinhua News Agency that China's food safety situation is generally stable and improving.

The level of food safety in the country improved in 2010, with no major crisis, Zhang said. Nearly all major food items that have been tested, including vegetables, livestock and aquatic products, were up to national standards, official statistics showed.

However, for the Chinese public, a crisis like the melamine-tainted milk products, which killed at least six infants and made 300,000 ill on the mainland, still seriously affects their confidence in China's food safety and the government's capacity to manage it.

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Zhang said that, given the size of the country and the large number of food manufacturers, "it does take time and public support to improve the situation".

Even with strict supervision, the manufacturer is still the first one to be accountable for food safety and quality, he said.

Given that food chain systems in China are complicated, various administrations are involved in management and supervision, and this has resulted in regulatory gaps and, occasionally, overlapping, he said.

The current situation requires the government to order more stringent supervision of food safety and to improve the efficiency of the system to ensure that the country can guarantee food safety, he said.

According to China's new Food Safety Law, the government will introduce tighter supervision and a food safety risk assessment system.

The Standing Committee of the National People's Congress passed the Food Safety Law in July 2009. Five months later, the State Council passed the enforcement regulations of the law. The Ministry of Health issued a series of regulations to restrict the use of food additives in 2010.

"We will not only strengthen the work of different regulatory departments, but also eliminate loopholes in the regulations to improve supervision," Zhang said.