Quality watchdog gives imported food priority

By XU WEI ( China Daily ) Updated: 2014-01-07 01:16:43

Imported food and agricultural products will remain a top priority for supervision by the country's quality watchdog in 2014, a senior official said on Monday.

Zhi Shuping, minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, made the call in the wake of more than 600,000 metric tons of US corn being rejected in late 2013 for containing unapproved genetically modified materials.

He said during an annual work conference that the authority will strengthen its supervision of imported products that are daily necessities, especially imported food and agricultural products.

In 2013, the administration rejected 2,030 shipments of disqualified food products and detected 530,000 shipments containing a total of 4,509 pest species in 2013.

It also rejected 601,000 tons of imported corn from the United States during November and December after detecting a genetically modified variety, known as MIR 162, which has not been approved by agricultural authorities in China.

The quarantine of animals and plants, hazardous chemicals, waste materials and nuclear hazards in cargo will also continue to be key priorities.

The watchdog will also focus on quality checks of children's products, food-related products, textiles and clothing, electronics and e-commerce products.

In order to further enhance the supervision of imported food products, the administration will also begin drafting a State Council regulation on imported food, according to Cao Dahai, deputy head of the legal affairs department with the quality watchdog.

The current regulation on imported food was passed by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine in 2012.

"If the regulation is upgraded to State Council level, it will enable better coordination between different government departments," he said.

Zhi said 245 port quarantine checkpoints had passed tests on quarantine capacity and technical standards by the authority in 2013, as part of efforts to strengthen the supervision of imported food products, while 40 checkpoints have yet to pass the tests.

Liu Yong, an official with the food department of the Chongqing Entry Exit Quarantine and Inspection Bureau, said the authority saw a major increase in the number of imported food products that failed quality tests in 2013, with 18 shipments disqualified.

The figure is a significant increase from 2012, when 12 shipments failed the tests.

Most of the products that failed contained food additives not approved in China or used labels that did not conform to Chinese standards.

Some of the rejected products were also past their expiration date or damaged during the transportation process, he said.

China's volume of imported food has grown at a yearly rate of 15 percent in the last five years thanks to a prosperous online marketplace, Xinhua News Agency reported.

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