The National Development and Reform Commission, the Standardization Administration of China, the Ministry of Agriculture and six other departments announced their 2004–2005 development program for national food standards at the weekend.
The reform program will include establishing inspections for all known banned materials in food manufacturing within two years.
To reduce trade barriers, China will raise the ratio of international standards utilized by the food industry to 55 percent from today's 23 percent.
"Safety is the first consideration for anything entering people's mouths, followed by its nutritional value," said Hao Yu, secretary-general of the National Food Industry Standardization Technique Committee.
He added that the use of additives will be a major consideration in drafting the new standards.
Spot checks during the past two years have revealed that the abuse or misuse of additives in food production and processing has become the biggest threat to food safety.
In one case, talcum power was found in flour products, in violation of national food standards.
"There are no methods or standards to test the talcum powder content in flour under the current norms," said Shang Yan'e, an official with the central government entity responsible for grain and oil inspections.
Funds have been allocated to conduct risk evaluations on food additives to fix acceptable standards.
(China Daily December 13, 2004)