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Global forum highlights food safety
By Qin Chuan (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-11-18 22:35

The Chinese Government will learn from international experiences to further ensure the country's food safety, officials said at the Global Food Safety Forum in Beijing, which opened Thursday.

The two-day forum has attracted more than 400 participants from both China and abroad. Nearly 80 of the attendants will deliver speeches at the forum.

According to the newly published "Study on China's National Food Safety Strategy," a collaboration of more than 150 Chinese researchers from 50 research and government bodies, China's food safety faces tough challenges despite noticeable progress in past years.

Han Jun, from the Development Research Centre of the State Council which took the lead in conducting the study, gave a brief introduction of the study at the forum Thursday.

Existing problems include excessive and improper use of pesticides, the existence of many unqualified small-size food companies and the insufficiency of food safety technology.

The strategic study offers a series of suggestions to alleviate the problem, such as setting up a state food safety commission to co-ordinate government bodies, giving advice to the government in policy making, raising public awareness in food safety policies and knowledge and conducting surveys on the status of food safety.

Vice-Premier Wu Yi, when addressing the opening of the forum, expected the forum to strengthen exchange in the field of food safety.

Wu said the supervision and management system for food safety in China will be perfected. Different government departments will be given clear duties.

A scientific and technological research system will also be set up to support food safety, she said.

Scientific and technological research in food safety will be included in the national mid and long-term science and technology plans.

The country will establish a new system of food safety standards that matches international standards, a uniform and efficient food safety monitoring system and a food safety credit system, the vice-premier said.

National campaigns against unqualified food will be continued, she said. Food for children and rural food markets will be the top priority in the coming period.

Wu said international co-operation and information sharing are necessary for achieving a global food safety system.

Head of the State Food and Drug Administration Zheng Xiaoyu told the forum the food industry in China has been growing fast over the past two decades.

Last year the output value of the food industry reached 1.29 trillion yuan (US$156 billion), up nearly 20 per cent from 2002.

In the first six months of this year, the industry achieved an output value of nearly 710 billion yuan (US$85.9 billion), a 20 per cent increase over the same period last year.

The Ministry of Health has been monitoring food safety since the early 1980s. According to statistics from the ministry, quoted by the Study on China's National Food Safety Strategy, the quality of food has experienced great improvement in China.

The proportion of qualified food was 61.5 per cent in 1982. It grew to 82.3 per cent in 1994 and to 88.6 per cent in 2001.

Last year the proportion soared to 97.1 per cent.

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