Tuesday, June 19, 2012

China Releases Food Safety Improvement Plan

China released a five-year plan on Friday to upgrade its food safety regulations in the country's latest efforts to address food safety concerns.

The government will improve national food safety standards by revamping outdated standards, reviewing and abolishing any contradicting or overlapping standards and working out new regulations, according to a plan posted on the website of the Ministry of Health.

China has more than 2,000 national food regulations and more than 2,900 industry-based regulations.
Many of the regulations are overlapping or contradict each other, since multiple government agencies were given the responsibility of compiling their own standards years ago.

According to the plan, 14 government departments, including the Ministry of Health, the Ministry of Science and Technology and the Ministry of Agriculture, will coordinate to finish revamping the existing standards by 2015.

China is still suffering from the absence of several major food safety regulations, the plan said.
The government will prioritize safety standards for dairy products, infant food, meat, alcohol, vegetable oil, seasoning, health products and food additives so as to specify limits for dangerous ingredients in these foods, according to the plan.

Moreover, the government will make special efforts to set standards for testing various contaminants, food additives, microorganisms, pesticide and animal drug residue in food production by 2015, according to the plan.

Food safety became a nationwide concern in China after a spate of food safety incidents, such as food contamination and the illegal use of prohibited ingredients and additives in food production.
The most recent scandal involved an "unusual amount" of mercury found in baby formula produced by Inner Mongolia Yili Industrial Group Co., one of China's biggest dairy companies.
Yili started to recall the defective products on Wednesday.

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