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NPC Plans to Revise Food Safety Legislation

China will soon revise its Food Hygiene Law to improve safety, Vice-Chairman of the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC) Lu Yongxiang said yesterday.

A draft of the revision will be submitted to the Standing Committee in the near future, he said.

"Although efforts have been made during recent years, we still face a serious situation in food safety," Lu said yesterday at a conference.

Pollution and malpractice, for instance, exist in agricultural production and food processing.

"The public lacks confidence in the safety of food," Lu said.

The Food Hygiene Law, which took effect 10 years ago, could not meet the current requirements of food safety supervision, he said. The NPC Standing Committee has been planning for some time to revise it.

"We need to find out the key points in the legislation to effectively supervise the whole food industry chain," Lu said.

The food industry involves cultivation, breeding, production, processing, sale and consumption.

Also, Lu said, legislators should clarify current laws, regulations and standards to make them consistent with one another.

One of the main difficulties is the enforcement of the current food safety laws, especially in rural areas, which he called ineffective.

Lu urged governmental departments on all levels to fulfil their duties strictly according to law.

Also at yesterday's conference, State Food and Drug Administration Director Shao Mingli reported on a follow-up to advice on food safety recommended by NPC deputies during the annual full session in March.

During that third annual session, 53 deputies agreed to make 15 recommendations. They urged that the food safety supervision system be upgraded and that law enforcement be strengthened.

"Local governments in Zhejiang, Shandong and Guizhou have established food safety coordination organizations," Shao said.

Currently, various governmental departments including health, food and drug supervision, agriculture and industry and commerce authorities are responsible for different parts of food safety supervision.

Local governments in Shanghai and Guangzhou have attempted to build a unified supervision system, Shao said.

Some members of the NPC Standing Committee and NPC deputies that put forward the advice said yesterday that it would not be beneficial if so many government departments continued to divide up food safety supervision.

(China Daily September 30, 2005)

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