China / Society

Rating system proposed to protect baby formula quality

By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2014-08-14 07:06

A rating system for baby formula producers in China has been proposed in a draft regulation designed to improve food safety management.

According to the draft by the China Food and Drug Administration, every milk powder company will have its own rating file that will record problems, unqualified product information, illegal behavior, food safety accidents, product recall information and consumer complaints.

Enterprises with bad ratings will be given more frequent inspection and supervision by authorities, the China Food and Drug Administration said.

Under the system, enterprises that observe law and discipline will be recognized while violators will be punished, said Teng Jiacai, deputy head of the administration.

Since 2008, when one of the country's biggest baby formula scandals was exposed, a series of safety issues have haunted the dairy industry and have been accompanied by intensified supervision and quality checkups by authorities.

In addition to action on the national level, a number of cities, such as Shanghai, Zibo, Suzhou and Yinchuan, have started to sell baby formula, trying to ensure food quality.

This week, lawmakers in Shanghai held a hearing on the draft of their own food-safety system that will help identify product information, including origin, purchase, storage and sales.

Dairy products, meat, grain crops, edible oil, freshwater fish, vegetables and frozen poultry are all included in the system, according to the Shanghai FDA.

"Shanghai is not self-sufficient in food production. Many food products are provided by other areas. The different planting, breeding and transportation patterns in different regions have brought risk to food safety and people's health," said Yan Zuqiang, head of Shanghai FDA.

Delegates at the hearing also called for including small business into the city's first law to track food.

"There are a large number of small food shops and small restaurants in the city that serve low-income groups and pose more food safety risks," said Zhang Huiming, vice-president of Shanghai Food Association, who said the system is expected to help regulate small-business behavior.

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