New department devoted to food safety
Updated: 2013-03-05 07:53
By Shan Juan (China Daily)
A new government department devoted to food safety supervision and the enforcement of associated standards and regulations is certain to improve the quality of what Chinese people eat, said a senior health official.
Chen Xiaohong, vice-minister of health, made the remarks on the sidelines of the annual session of the 12th Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference National Committee.
Food safety is currently within the purview of a number of government agencies such as the ministries of health and commerce, the State Food and Drug Administration, and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.
Chen, who is also a member of the CPPCC National Committee, said that bringing food safety within the remit of a single department would help avoid the duplication of work or a vacuum in which vital tasks fail to be performed.
He added that such a step will be a "good example of China's institutional reform and would facilitate the enforcement of laws and regulations to ensure food safety".
But Jiao Hong, deputy director of the SFDA, declined to respond to any media questions regarding food safety, stating that the exact plan still requires legislators' final approval.
Chen expressed confidence that such a plan, which would help realize seamless supervision of food safety, will be passed by the legislature very soon.
He added that China is highly likely to establish a food safety standards center.
China currently has more than 5,000 standards concerning food quality and hygiene, with several agencies in charge of their implementation, according to Chen.
"Some of them were overlapping while some contradicted one another, therefore the system needs to be reorganized," he said.
"The coming center will consolidate those standards, a practice in line with that in countries with good food safety regulation," he said.
After their consolidation, the standards will be "unique and compulsory", he added.
Asked about the supposed gaps between China's food safety standards and those in developed economies, Chen said: "Ours don't lag behind others at all.
"Our experts in that field are actually among the world's leading ones," he noted, citing that, since 2006, China has hosted the Codex Committee on food additives under the Codex Alimentarius Commission, a decision-making body under the World Health Organization on all major food standards and safety issues.
(China Daily 03/05/2013 page5)