China's food safety plan includes alignment with international standards

by Susan Reidy
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China released its 13th Five-Year Plan on Food Safety in February.
WASHINGTON, D.C., U.S. – China has outlined steps it plans to take to ensure food safety, including aligning its standards with international standards and launching a risk alert system, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS) said in a March report.

 

The nation outlined four key objectives in regard to food safety in its 13th Five-Year Plan on Food Safety that was released on Feb. 21. They include:

  • Enhancing sample testing to cover all types of food.
  • Effective governance of resource contamination.
  • Reinforcing on-site inspections, establishing a professional inspect team and standardize enforcement procedures and documentation.
  • Aligning Chinese food safety standards with international standards.

In its plan, China acknowledges that problems still exist due to the contamination of input sources, and challenges remain given the number of small-sized producers, absent food safety standards and insufficient regulatory/enforcement capacity.

During the last five years, China’s food safety regulatory system has improved. This has included creation of the Food Safety Commission as the coordinator for food safety issues among relevant ministries. Two dozen laws and regulations have been revised, and the Ministry of Agriculture issued 2,800 limits for pesticide residues in foods.

According to its plan, China will establish a database that covers food safety standards developed by CODEX and other countries, conduct research and comparison of foreign and global standards. Specifically, it will develop or update 300 national standards; develop/update/assess 6,600 maximum residue limits (MRL) for pesticides; and 270 residue limits for veterinary drugs.

By the end of the 13th Five-Year Plan period (2020), the national food safety standard system will cover all foods consumed (including agricultural products and dietary foods for the special population groups).

As part of the plan, China will develop no less than 20 key limit standards for pesticides and vet drugs; and no less than five standards for new toxicities and contaminants.

In addition, the plan says efforts will be made to construct a comprehensive legislative system with the Food Safety Law at its core. China also will revise the Agricultural Product Quality and Safety Law, the Implementing Rules of the Food Safety Law, Administrative Rules for Pesticides, Administrative Rules for Quality and Safety of Dairy Products, support the promulgation of the Soil Pollution Prevention and Rectification Laws, the Grains Law, and the Administrative Rules for Chemical Fertilizer etc.

China also will develop/revise a variety of regulations on food labeling, food safety incident investigation, information disclosure, whole-process traceability, etc.

For the oversight of food import and export, the plan pledges to launch a food safety risk alert system and a food importer/exporter reputation recording mechanism. It also will reinforce inspections of foreign food safety regulatory systems. Chinese authorities will improve quality and safety inspections and testing of imported and exported food; formulate plans for sample testing and risk surveillance.

China will actively participate in the formulation of international rules and standards and join global efforts in response to food safety incidents.

Full text of the 13th Five-Year Plan for Food Safety may be found here.
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