China / Society

Shanghai drugstores begin trial sales of baby formula

By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily) Updated: 2014-06-04 06:49

A number of drugstores in Shanghai have started to sell baby formula in a trial starting this month, part of the city's efforts to further improve food safety.

According to the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, all drugstores selling baby formula need to get a license for sales and establish a sales section with specialized signs and the phone number for monitoring.

"To regulate baby formula's purchase, sales, delisting and recall through the drug management mode can better guarantee product quality. And our goal is to put the sales of baby formula fully into the city's drug sales monitoring and management system," said Gu Zhenhua, vice-director of the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration.

Shanghai also will establish a comprehensive food-safety traceability system this year. It will be able to identify all of a product's purchase, storage and sales information through technological means.

Food products in the system will be divided into the major categories of meat, dairy products, grain crops, edible oil, freshwater fish, vegetables and frozen poultry, according to the Shanghai FDA.

For example, by simply scanning the two-dimensional bar code on baby formula cans, consumers can easily get product information such as raw-materials purchase and inspection reports, officials said.

The food safety traceability system will go online for public access later this year on the city's government website, Gu said.

Earlier this year, French infant formula producer Dumex launched an online product traceability system that allows consumers to look up key product information by scanning a QR code on product packaging.

"Just recently, we have further improved our traceability system with the guidance of the Shanghai FDA," said Boris Bourdin, general manager of Dumex.

"In addition to providing the critical production information, we have also updated information about origin country for raw materials and details of lower-level distributors."

In recent years, a series of safety issues, including baby formula scandals, have affected the food industry across the country and caused a public outcry.

In December, China Food and Drug Administration issued a revised regulation to step up standards for domestic infant formula producers in nine areas, including product safety control, raw materials purchase, product inspection, manufacturing process and product traceability.

Under the revised regulation, baby formula producers had to invest to upgrade their production and management processes to meet the new requirements and receive new licenses for production permits.

Last week, CFDA announced that it had renewed production permits for 82 baby formula producers. Additionally, 51 producers either failed to obtain renewed production permits or applied to delay their renewals.

Over the past year, 2,698 baby formula product samples from 86 enterprises in 22 provinces have been tested, and no unqualified samples were found, according to CFDA.

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