Food safety, which has caught growing attention among the Chinese on the road of affluence, may become a topic of discussions during the annual sessions of lawmakers and political advisors.
Many people in China have become critical of food safety especially since the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that hit the country early last year. And some people are still worrying about the safety of poultry products though experts and scientists have kept reminding the people that it is absolutely safe to take well-cooked chicken and eggs.
Their worry is not without reason as a nationwide survey of more than 2,000 kinds of foodstuffs last year indicated that only 82.1 percent of them were up to standard, whereas the qualification rate for products made in small firms and workshops was merely 76.2 percent.
The outcome of the recent sample survey by China's top quality control authorities, coupled with a number of food poisoning accidents in the last few years, has irritated members of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), the top advisory body of the country.
The CPPCC national committee members, who are in Beijing from across the country for an annual session slated for opening on Wednesday, urged substantial measures to secure food safety.
In an interview with Xinhua, member Zheng Jianhe from Jiangsu Province, east China, suggested prompt actions be taken for implementing the market access system that keeps unqualified food enterprises from entering the market.
Since China adopted the market access system in August 2002, only 17,900 out of the nation's 106,000 food companies have obtained license for foodstuff production.
"Compulsory measures must be taken to implement the system and improve management in an all-round way," noted Zheng. "This is the only way to quality control for food products in the whole process from cropland or workshop to market. The government should not only keep an eye on production bases, but enhance quality inspection in marketplaces," he added.
Member Wang Qinping, who is also deputy director of the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, also upbraid local leaders for blindly pursuing economic growth and permitting the operations of those small firms producing substandard foodstuffs.
Of the 106,000 food companies in China, approximately 70 percent are family workshops each with less than 10 employees and 60 percent do not have adequate conditions for production.
Local officials should support the effort to straighten out family food workshops out of the human-based scientific concept of development advocated by the country' central authorities.
(China Daily March 2, 2004)