Beijing plans more food-safety reforms

Posted by Josette Dunn on 13th September 2010

The Chinese government will accelerate building a national third-party food inspection system after recent food scandals involving mooncakes, shrimp and tea oil.

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A report from the State Council office of food safety and 17 central government departments, including the health and commerce ministries, said China will also increase investment in monitoring equipment and technologies, although the report did not disclose total spending.

Currently, local offices of the Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine oversee food safety in China, and they could be tempted to ignore local problems, said Zhong Yaoguang, a professor at College of Food Science& Technology of Shanghai Ocean University.

“To the local government it’s not only about shutting down someone’s business, but about job losses,” he said.

Although third-party agencies could better withstand such pressures, Zhong doubted they would significantly improve China’s food safety. “These scandals were caused by toxic chemicals…forbidden by the food regulation [and] thus out of the scope of inspection,” he said, noting inspections currently focus on excessive use of legal additives.

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