Nation

Food safety reforms proposed

By WANG YAN (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-03-09 07:48
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BEIJING - The general office of the State Council issued a plan on Monday to improve national food safety, setting the tone for this year's program, which includes emphasizing the accountability of the system.

As part of a two-year project that began last month, the plan details 11 points for reforming food safety in China, aiming to solve problems and restore public confidence in the products that are available on the market.

One of the points concerned the quality of farm products.

"Tests on pesticide residues in vegetables, fruits, teas, domestic fungus, animal products and sea food should be enforced. Regulations on pesticide production and sales, as well as random checks on pesticide quality, should be strengthened," according to the plan.

The statement follows a recent food scandal in which a banned pesticide was found in some cowpeas grown in Hainan province that were sold in several parts of the country, including Hubei, Guangdong, Anhui and Jiangsu provinces.

The plan, which requires increased supervision of fresh dairy products, also proposed a clampdown on illegal purchasing stations as well as severe punishments for the use of the banned medications nitrofurans and malachite green in the aquaculture industry.

Other points include banning illegal food additives, improving food production and processing, as well as the importing and exporting of food.

In addition to highlighting the need for comprehensive food safety regulations, there were also calls for improving the intermediate links in food production, including better regulation of the catering and butchering industries.

The work plan has brought food production and processing into focus and placed an emphasis on establishing the accountability of the food safety system.

"Any governmental department that fails to fulfill its duty should be seriously punished. Responsible persons concerned with late, left-out and concealed reports on food safety accidents will be called to account," the plan stated.

Dong Jinshi, an expert in Beijing on food safety, said: "Information disclosure and accountability are crucial to improving the situation of food safety. Without the necessary media and governmental supervision, any policies or regulations would be in vain."

(China Daily 03/09/2010 page2)