China vows greater efforts to safeguard food safety

Updated: 2011-04-26 17:00
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BEIJING - China's health authorities will intensify its crackdown on the illegal adding of non-edible materials to food and tighten supervision against abuse of food additives, according to a circular issued by the Ministry of Health.

The ministry in the circular issued Monday demanded greater efforts from local health administration agencies in investigating and handling of cases that involve the adding of non-edible materials to food.

A system for reporting food safety incidents and organizing investigations should be created by local health authorities, the circular said.

The ministry also urged health authorities to improve their emergency response system for food safety accidents and include experts in their investigation teams.

Local health authorities should better work with other government agencies to root out those inspection or certification agencies responsible for dereliction of duty in food safety cases, the circular said.

China has blacklisted 151 materials forbidden in food or which have been improperly used in food for human consumption and livestock feed over the past nine years, according to figures released by the food safety committee under the State Council, or China's cabinet.

The materials include 47 inedible materials that may be added illegally to food for human consumption, 22 food additives that are easily abused and 82 substances forbidden in feed and drinking water for animals.

The health ministry stressed in the circular that those blacklisted non-edible materials and additives should become the key targets during food safety supervision of health administration authorities at various levels.

"Tests should be conducted immediately, if any non-edible materials or abuse of food additives are found in food during investigations into rare illnesses with suspected links to tainted food," the circular said.

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The country's cabinet recently ordered an intensified crackdown on the illegal use of non-edible materials in food.

Non-edible materials are banned from use in food, said the circular posted last week on the official website of China's central government.

Use of any food additive or flavoring that are uncertified or bear no standard information as to its manufacturers, or overuse of such materials, are also prohibited, the State Food and Drug Administration said.

These moves came after a series of food safety scandals including clenbuterol-tainted pork and dyed steamed buns have surfaced in recent months despite Chinese authorities' efforts to revamp the country's food industry.