Supervision on Safety of Marketed Food Produces

The CPC leadership and the State Council have attached great importance to food safety and have established protocol for food safety administration, featuring unity in leadership throughout the country, responsibilities shouldered by local governments, coordination between departments and joint actions by all parties concerned. Under the principle of addressing both symptoms and root causes, integration of prevention with control, categorized supervision and comprehensive management, the CPC leadership and the State Council give priority to the fight against the production and sales of counterfeit and substandard food products and other illegal acts, in order to rectify the market, safeguard public heath and safety.

In line with the arrangements of the State Council and the National Office of Market Rectification, the Administration for Industry and Commerce(AICs) have set as their goal to maintain food safety in circulation, and have launched well-organized and intensified special campaigns to straighten out food circulation to ensure food safety. All the efforts have produced marked effect. In 2006, Administrations for Industry and Commerce all over the country investigated and handled 68,000 cases involving the production and sales of counterfeit and substandard food products worth 150 million yuan, demolished 5,900 dens used to produce and sell shoddy food products, and transferred 48 major cases to judicial authorities. These campaigns have further rectified market order and effectively improved the safety of food products on the market, thus greatly boosting confidence and giving impetus to the sound and rapid development of the economy and the society.

1. Tightening market access for food business entities and cleaning up unqualified entities according to standardized qualifications.

On the basis of clean-up campaigns in recent years, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce (SAIC) launched nationwide special campaigns to clean up unqualified food business entities on the food market. Local AICs, by means of annual inspection of enterprises, examination of licenses held by self-employed businesses, and regular check-ups on the markets, reviewed the enterprises and self-employed businesses engaged in food production and sales one by one, thus derived further knowledge of their operational status and perfected a categorized supervision system based on the entities' credit and a business registration-based regulation system. In the meantime, the offices intensified their efforts to investigate and ban the unlicensed businesses, and standardized the market access requirements for business entities. In 2006, AICs nationwide conducted 10.4 million inspections of business entities in the food market, and discovered problems in 360,000 businesses. A total of 152,000 unlicensed businesses were investigated and accordingly banned from operation; and 4,629 business licenses were withdrawn.

2. Launching special food safety inspections and effectively safeguarding consumption safety on the food market

In accordance with the arrangements of SAIC, local AICs have launched special food safety inspection with a focus on key areas such as urban communities, rural areas and urban-rural fringes, places such as department stores, supermarkets, peddlers' markets and wholesale markets, and key holidays such as the Mid-Autumn Festival, New Year's Day and the Spring Festival. Meanwhile, in line with the arrangements of the State Council, SAIC conducted joint inspections of the liquid milk market with relevant departments, and initiated sudden clean-up campaigns throughout the country to curb food safety incidents, such as substandard powdered milk, red-yolk salted duck eggs, turbot containing carcinogenic residue, and Sudan I in chili powder, effectively safeguarding consumption safety on the food market. During the special campaigns, AICs have spent 5.6 million manhours to inspect 16,000 key food markets and handle 68,000 cases of violations. In 2006, AICs nationwide have accepted 63,065 complaints from consumers against food products and 17,362 complaints against restaurants and hotels. The two figures dropped 2.8 percent and 2.1 percent respectively compared with those of 2005, indicating the order on the food market was further straightened.

3. Reinforcing regular food market supervision at the grass-roots level and thus further improving regular supervisory capability

In line with the “Working Standards of Food Safety Supervision and Regulation for Grassroots Administration for Industry and Commerce Offices” and requirements of “Six Inspections and Six Checks” issued by SAIC, local AICs have reached an earnest definition of their duties and responsibilities in areas under their jurisdiction, and have stressed five mechanisms for food safety supervision, namely, the credit-based categorized supervision system and the business registration-based management system; the system of districts of responsibility for market supervision and regulation, persons responsible and the check-ups on the markets; the system of food quality supervision and regulation and the system of business operator self-discipline; the system of investigating the cases in violation of the laws and bans imposed on unlicensed businesses; the system of accepting consumer complaints, issuing early warnings and handling emergencies. So far, 21,000 grassroots AIC offices have established the inspection system characterized by “two maps and one book” and “one account and one card,” and nearly 20,000 offices set up a categorized supervision system of food quality. In the meantime, grassroots offices have improved their means of food safety supervision and law enforcement by establishing a food safety information system designed for supervision, further enhancing the technology content of regular supervision at the grassroots level.

4. Tightening supervision over the whole process of market access, trade and withdrawal of food products, and significantly improving food quality

AICs nationwide have given top priority to the food quality supervision and continue to make great efforts to enhance the quality through supervision over the whole process of market access, trade and withdrawal of the food products. Firstly, the offices have urged business operators to implement self-discipline systems, thus restricting market access for food products. The grassroots offices have signed agreements on food safety responsibilities with food business operators in the areas under their jurisdiction and, in 2006, ordered 699,000 food business operators nationwide to correct their wrongdoings in business qualification, shipment acceptance, food quality, packaging and labeling, as well as trademarks and advertisement. Secondly, the offices have made intensified efforts to monitor food quality and strengthen their supervision of food market quality. AICs at all levels have established a monitoring system that integrates self-inspection by business operators, surveillance by consumers and supervision by AICs, and set up an efficient testing system that features the interaction at provincial, municipal, county, and grass-roots levels. In addition, SAIC has set up, in 31 provinces, autonomous regions and municipalities, food safety monitoring stations from which they directly submit statistical reports. So far, 372 food quality testing vehicles and 5,366 testing kits have been allocated among these units. In 2006, SAIC organized quality testing campaigns of 34 key food products in different regions, and AICs at all levels conducted efficient tests of food products in 3.92 million batches and 676 categories. The overall rate of qualification was 96.6 percent, with 5,241 food quality cases investigated and dealt with accordingly. Thirdly, the offices have improved their categorized food supervision system and have ordered unqualified food products to be withdrawn from the market. AICs are exploring the use of specialized supervision methods for the various food products. As for the unqualified foodstuffs they found during the market check-ups, quality monitoring and efficient testing, they have promptly published the information about the products and have ordered the operators to suspend sales and recall products while imposing legal bans on the food products. AICs in Beijing and Xiamen have established a management system for refrigerated foods and have established an on-line dynamic supervision system for fresh food, thus effectively keeping unqualified food out of the market. In Zhejiang , an early warning law enforcement mechanism was established to convey information about the unqualified food to all AIC offices, in addition to the general public and food producers themselves. In 2006, a total of 16,000 tons of unqualified food products were ordered to be withdrawn from the market.

5. Building up the legal foundation and long-term supervision protocol, and further standardizing food market regulation

In recent years, SAIC has provided legal foundation for food safety supervision by laying down and issuing a series of normative documents, such as Several Opinions on Further Strengthening Supervision of Food Safety in Circulation, Working Standards of Food Safety Supervision for Grassroots Administrations for Industry and Commerce Offices, Emergency Plan in Response to Major Food Safety Incidents for Administrations for Industry and Commerce, Responsibility System and Responsibility Affixing System of Food Safety Supervision and Regulation for Administrations for Industry and Commerce and Testing Methods for Quality in Circulation. In the light of the demand of perfecting a long-term food safety supervision system, one that integrates supervision of AICs, food business operator self-discipline and the public surveillance, local AICs have made constant efforts to improve their supervision systems, such as market access for business entities, credit-based categorized supervision, market check-ups, quality monitoring, categorized quality supervision, withdrawal of unqualified food, and publication of food safety information. They also vigorously urge food business operators to establish and implement self-discipline systems, such as checking upon delivery, keeping records of purchases and sales, making commitment to food quality, signing agreements before gaining market access, and defining operator quality responsibilities. In addition, AICs have made great efforts to build up early warning and quick response capacities, supervision network and public surveillance mechanism, thus providing institutional safeguards of consumption safety within the food market. So far, among all the enterprises and self-employed businesses engaged in the sales of food products in China, 2,133,000 have established the check-upon-delivery system, 1,985,000 have kept a record of their purchases and sales, and 2,046,000 have made commitments to the quality of their food products. Among all the department stores, supermarkets, pedlars' fairs and wholesales markets that sell food products, 81,000 have established the system of signing agreements before gaining market access, 52,000 have joined in the system of market organizers shouldering the responsibility for quality incidents, 82,000 have set up the system of quality self-testing, and 98,000 have built the system of withdrawal of unqualified food products.

Market rectification is a long-term task. On the basis of previous achievements, AICs will earnestly implement the overall arrangements made by the State Council for special campaigns to improve food safety, and continue to make joint efforts with departments concerned to carry out the special inspection of food markets. The offices will reinforce business-registration-based management of food business operators, strictly define and affix the operator responsibilities for food quality and actively push forward the “Rectification Year of Rural Foodstuff Marketplace.” The AICs will reinforce the food safety supervision and regulation, so as to make new contributions to the maintenance of market order and the protection of consumer's safety.