Im­prov­ing food stan­dards

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - COMMENT - – NANFANG ME­TROP­O­LIS DAILY

The Na­tional Health and Fam­ily Plan­ning Com­mis­sion has re­vealed its in­ten­tion to clean up and con­sol­i­date nearly 5,000 food safety stan­dards and for­mu­late or re­vise 300 na­tional stan­dards. This is a timely step to reg­u­late China’s food in­dus­try, given that food safety has be­come a huge con­cern af­ter a num­ber of high-pro­file scan­dals and tragedies in re­cent years.

The ex­is­tence of as­sorted, dif­fer­ent and even con­flict­ing food safety stan­dards among dif­fer­ent de­part­ments, re­gions and fields com­pli­cates the man­age­ment and su­per­vi­sion of food pro­duc­tion.

An of­fi­cial from the China Na­tional Cen­ter for Food Safety Risk As­sess­ment once pointed out that more than 15 gov­ern­ment de­part­ments in charge of health, in­dus­try, forestry and grains had their own stan­dards in their ar­eas of re­spon­si­bil­ity. This shows how nec­es­sary it is for the NHFPC to build a uni­fied na­tional sys­tem for food safety stan­dards.

Es­pe­cially as newly dis­cov­ered chem­i­cal con­tam­i­nants and path­o­genic micro­organ­isms that may pose health haz­ards con­tin­u­ally present new chal­lenges to those charged with en­sur­ing the safety of the food we eat and re­quire the for­mu­la­tion of new safety stan­dards, along with their eval­u­a­tion and su­per­vi­sion.

Com­pound­ing the dif­fi­cul­ties, peo­ple’s ris­ing liv­ing stan­dards have prompted them to pay more at­ten­tion to food safety and there is grow­ing pres­sure on the au­thor­i­ties to in­ten­sify their su­per­vi­sion.

The coun­try’s law on food safety adopted 28 years ago no longer meets the needs of the times af­ter the tremen­dous changes that have oc­curred since then. The law’s amend­ment re­mains a press­ing task, as is re­vi­sion of the coun­try’s food safety stan­dards en­force­ment sys­tem. Lax and weak su­per­vi­sion is be­lieved to be one of the rea­sons for the prob­lems ex­posed in the coun­try’s food pro­duc­tion.

How­ever, to en­sure the ef­fec­tive su­per­vi­sion and en­force­ment of food safety stan­dards, the coun­try should first have a set of uni­fied food safety stan­dards.

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