Several Chinese cities have piloted the merging of quality watchdogs to ensure food safety, which has been troubled by scandals in recent years, with the latest meat tainting of a Shanghai subsidiary of a U.S. company.
Tianjin Municipality in north China set up the Tianjin Market and Quality Supervision Administration last Wednesday, after merging three municipal government departments -- the industry and commerce administration, quality and technical inspection as well as the food and drug administration.
The new combined market watchdog of Tianjin is the first provincial level one of its kind in the country. Similar bodies have been established in Zhoushan City in east China's Zhejiang Province, Pudong New Area in Shanghai and Shenzhen City in south China's Guangdong Province this year.
The reform will not only facilitate trade and investment, but also further improve the safety supervision of food and other commodities, said Lin Lijun, head of the Tianjin Market and Quality Supervision Administration.
Staff of the previous three government bodies will be integrated and specialized, according to Lin.
Food safety is one of big public concerns in China. It involves different supervision departments, but the efficiency and efficacy of such supervision is not ideal. The system is often compared to "rain being allocated by nine dragons," a mythical creature assigned to produce rain.
The investigation into the recent Shanghai scandal was launched after a local TV station reported in late July that Shanghai Husi Food Co., Ltd, a meat supplier owned by U.S.-based OSI Group, mixed fresh and expired meat.