Global efforts sought on food safety issues

Updated: 2015-04-23 08:31

By He Na(China Daily)

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China is working with other countries to tackle food safety risks as the issue is a global problem and no nation is immune, a senior official from the China Food and Drug Administration said on Wednesday.

"Food safety has no boundaries," said Wang Mingzhu, the administration's deputy director-general. "The expansion of food chains has meant that food safety has become a complex global issue. A problem in a city or a country can quickly escalate into an international incident."

She was speaking on the opening day of the 2015 International Forum on Food Safety in Beijing. More than 40 world experts and government officials from home and abroad and 400 representatives from local governments and food companies are taking part.

"Working out measures to tackle food safety risks and reduce the number of food safety incidents is a major task for every country," Wang said.

"China has signed food safety agreements with many countries in an effort to prevent international incidents. We will further enhance cooperation over food safety risks."

Chen Junshi, a member of the Chinese Academy of Engineering, urged major international food and beverage companies to help small enterprises to increase their knowledge of the subject and improve the quality of their products.

Patrick Wall, co-chairman of the International Expert Panel on Food Safety at the International Union of Food Science and Technology, said food fraud and safety problems are global issues.

"Many places in the world have food safety problems. It happens in every country, not just in China," said Wall, a professor of public health at Ireland's University College Dublin.

He gave as examples an outbreak of mad cow disease in the United Kingdom and the contamination of food with dioxin in Belgium.

"The global food supply chain has changed; it means that our food on the table can possibly come from any corner in the world," Wall said. "Food safety has become a global public health problem."

It is important to restore consumers' confidence after food safety scandals, he said.

"Chinese consumers believe imported infant milk formula is safer. Rebuilding faith in the regulatory authorities and restoring brand loyalty requires powerful, highly visible risk-management strategies and effective communication," Wall said.

However, he added, actions speak louder than words.

"No amount of communication, no matter how innovative, will achieve results if it is not associated with strategies to reduce the risks or eradicate them completely."