China, US look at as­sess­ing food qual­ity, safety

China Daily (Canada) - - ACROSSAMERICAS - BY AMY HE in New York amyhe@chi­nadai­


in­tegrity of our food is a univer­sal con­cern and we are pleased to have the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss USP’s ideas for ad­dress­ing food fraud and food in­tegrity...”

Mem­bers of China’s Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture re­cently con­vened in Shang­hai for a two-day work­shop on how to im­ple­ment food-qual­ity risk as­sess­ment ef­forts, us­ing the United States Pharmacopeial Con­ven­tion’s tools de­signed to mit­i­gate food fraud.

Gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials and sci­en­tists from the min­istry ex­pressed a “strong in­ter­est” in work­ing with the United States Pharmacopeial (USP) to “ex­plore pos­si­ble ap­pli­ca­tions” of USP’s vul­ner­a­bil­ity as­sess­ment tool to agri­cul­tural prod­ucts, ac­cord­ing to the Mary­land­based non­profit or­ga­ni­za­tion.

The USP is the US’ of­fi­cial phar­ma­copeia, a pub­li­ca­tion that lists medic­i­nal drugs, their ef­fects and di­rec­tions for use.

“The in­tegrity of our food is a univer­sal con­cern and we are pleased to have the op­por­tu­nity to dis­cuss USP’s ideas for ad­dress­ing food fraud and food in­tegrity and strength­en­ing col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts to ad­vance this im­por­tant work,” said Ron­ald Piervincenzi, USP’s CEO.

The USP has a food fraud data­base launched in 2012 that ex­am­ines re­ports of food fraud, which in­cludes tam­per­ing or mis­rep­re­sen­ta­tion of food or com­pa­nies mak­ing mis­lead­ing state­ments about a prod­uct for eco­nomic gain. The data­base sources in­for­ma­tion from reg­u­la­tory and en­force­ment agen­cies, the me­dia, court lit­i­ga­tion, and aca­demic and sci­en­tific re­search, said Nils Ha­genFred­erik­sen, USP spokesman.

More than 30 of­fi­cials and se­nior sci­en­tists from 16 qual­ity as­sess­ment lab­o­ra­to­ries from the Min­istry of Agri­cul­ture par­tic­i­pated in the work­shop, USP said in its Dec 18 re­lease.

“USP’s new Guid­ance on Food Fraud Mit­i­ga­tion was of spe­cial in­ter­est dur­ing the work­shop. The tool is in­tended to as­sist man­u­fac­tur­ers and reg­u­la­tors in iden­ti­fy­ing food in­gre­di­ents that are most vul­ner­a­ble to fraud in or­der to ef­fec­tively pre­vent and com­bat eco­nom­i­cally-mo­ti­vated adul­ter­ation,” said Zhu Wei, USPChina di­rec­tor of food chem­i­cals, in the state­ment.

The USP, which was founded in 1820 and first worked with the Chi­nese in 1923 when its stan­dards were trans­lated into Chi­nese, re­cently launched its fraud vul­ner­a­bil­ity as­sess­ment tool to help reg­u­la­tors and man­u­fac­tur­ers iden­tify vul­ner­a­ble in­gre­di­ents in their sup­ply chains.

Food fraud and con­cerns about food safety have plagued China for years, one of the most re­cent high-pro­file cases in­volv­ing US re­tailer Wal-Mart. In Jan­uary of this year, Wal-Mart re­called don­key prod­ucts from its sup­pli­ers after it was told that don­key meat be­ing sold to cus­tomers con­tained traces of other an­i­mals’ DNA.

Test­ing of its “Five Spice” don­key meat showed that it had fox DNA and Wal-Mart quickly with­drew and sealed all its prod­ucts. Later in June, the re­tailer an­nounced that it would spon­sor a trans­la­tion of the Food Fraud Preven­tion on­line course de­vel­oped by a Michi­gan State Univer­sity pro­fes­sor into Man­darin.

A bill sub­mit­ted to the bi­monthly leg­isla­tive ses­sion of the Na­tional Peo­ple’s Congress Stand­ing Com­mit­tee will in­tro­duce po­ten­tial new pun­ish­ments for food safety vi­o­la­tors, ac­cord­ing to Xin­hua.

Those who add “ined­i­ble sub­stances” to food may be jailed for up to 15 days. “This is con­sid­ered a tough penalty since other pun­ish­ments spec­i­fied in the Food Safety Law mostly in­volve fines and re­vo­ca­tion of cer­tifi­cates,” the news agency said.

The new ver­sion of the bill also gives ex­tra pun­ish­ment for adding ex­pired prod­ucts or ad­di­tives to foods.

Ma­jor US fast-food brands also suf­fered from food-safety is­sues in China in the last year. Yum! Brands, par­ent company of KFC and Pizza Hut, and McDon­alds’ saw its China sales drop after one of its meat sup­pli­ers was shown sell­ing ex­pired prod­ucts to the com­pa­nies.


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