Market access will be denied to any food products that fail to
pass the strict scrutiny of a new system set to be in place by the
end of next year, said General Administration of Quality
Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (QSIQ) quality
supervisor Ji Zhengkun.
Ji made the statement in Beijing on Saturday at a meeting to
mark the 10th Mooncake Festival, which precedes the traditional
Mid-Autumn Festival on September 28. In 2001, a nationwide
mooncake scandal and subsequent crackdown by the Ministry of Health
occurred when a Nanjing television station broadcast secretly
filmed footage of a producer scraping mold from the previous year's
cakes to recycle the fillings.
Food has been elevated to China's second largest pillar
industry, with output value of more than 1 trillion yuan (US$120
billion) a year.
However, a spate of incidents in recent years, like the
mooncake, contaminated rice and substandard infant milk powder
scandals, have put food safety in the spotlight and prompted
authorities to instigate sweeping campaigns to win back consumers'
Already, a nationwide examination of producers of five major
staple foods -- wheat flour, vinegar, soy sauce, cooking oil and
rice -- has resulted in the revocation of market access for more
than 30,000 firms with inadequate production conditions and quality
standards, Ji said.
As a result, only 22,000 producers of the five food products, or
36 percent of the total, were awarded permits to produce foods
labeled with the "Quality Safe" (QS) mark. It is the first issuance
of such permits.
Using the same procedures, QSIQ is applying the market access
system to producers of 10 more food types, including meats, dairy
products, drinks, condiments, snack noodles and biscuits.
"As of today, 2,500 out of 44,000 producers of the 10 food
products have passed the market access assessment," Ji said. "We'll
start clearing producers without permits from the market on July 1
Food products are divided into 28 categories. The market access
system will be applied to the remaining 13 types by the end of
2005, according to Ji.
"With the market access arrangement, we are hoping to create
fair competition between enterprises and a good environment for
investors while putting consumers at ease about their food
choices," he said.
Product supervision authorities will take a particularly close
look at the quality of foods for children and at problems in rural
Earlier this year the nation was outraged when substandard milk
powder led to 13 infant deaths and malnutrition in 189 babies in
The State Council has streamlined the country's food quality
control process, which used to involve a dozen separate government
agencies, Ji stated.
Under the new arrangement, the Ministry of Agriculture is
responsible for quality control of raw agricultural products in the
course of crop growing and animal husbandry. QSIQ oversees the
processing stages of production. The State Administration for
Industry and Commerce supervises food distribution, while the
health departments handle the catering sector.
Ji said that a State Council circular directs that the food and
drug agencies will coordinate food safety operations.
(China Daily, China.org.cn September 13,