Health agency to trim ex­cess food stan­dards

China Daily (Canada) - - CHINA - By XU WEI xuwei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

The coun­try’s top health au­thor­ity wants to scrap or com­bine more than 1,400 food stan­dards over the next two years to stream­line food safety rules, an of­fi­cial said on Thurs­day.

A Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion sur­vey last year of the 4,934 food stan­dards found that 1,492 of them con­tra­dicted oth­ers or were re­dun­dant. Merg­ing or scrap­ping them al­to­gether would be prefer­able, said Su Zhi, di­rec­tor of the com­mis­sion’s food safety stan­dard and su­per­vi­sion eval­u­a­tion depart­ment.

“Some stan­dards over­lapped,” he said at a news con­fer­ence on Thurs­day.

Su said the au­thor­ity will fin­ish merg­ing re­dun­dant stan­dards over the next two years as part of an ef­fort to build a bet­ter na­tional food safety stan­dard sys­tem.

Cao Hong, a food safety engi­neer at the Na­tional Food Qual­ity Su­per­vi­sion and In­spec­tion Center, said the high num­ber of food stan­dards has long trou­bled food producers and cer­ti­fi­ca­tion agen­cies.

“A sin­gle prod­uct has to go through tests drafted by sev­eral gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, all of which are sim­i­lar,” she said.

The moun­tain of stan­dards reg­u­lat­ing bot­tled wa­ter caused a le­gal bat­tle last year be­tween Nongfu Spring, one of China’s bot­tled-wa­ter gi­ants, and Bei­jing Times. The pub­li­ca­tion printed a se­ries of re­ports blam­ing the bot­tled wa­ter pro­ducer of only adopt­ing Zhejiang prov­ince’s stan­dards in­stead of us­ing na­tional stan­dards.

Nongfu Spring de­nied the al­le­ga­tion, in­sist­ing that the na­tional stan­dard is com­pul­sory for all bot­tled wa­ter producers. It filed a defama­tion suit against Bei­jing Times in Novem­ber.

The China Na­tional Center for Food Safety Risk As­sess­ment, which is re­spon­si­ble for an­a­lyz­ing and merg­ing stan­dards, said in May that it will work quickly to con­sol­i­date cur­rent bot­tled-wa­ter stan­dards.

Cao said a lack of co­or­di­na­tion be­tween dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment de­part­ments is one of the main rea­sons for the high num­ber of food stan­dards.

“Dif­fer­ent gov­ern­ment de­part­ments have their own com­mit­tee for draft­ing stan­dards to only cover the ar­eas un­der the de­part­ments’ ju­ris­dic­tions,” she said.

Some food stan­dards have also failed to keep up with tech­no­log­i­cal de­vel­op­ments.

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