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Quality of Food Products Improving
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Food quality and safety in China has been much improved as the country completes the establishment of market access systems for food products.

By the end of the year, China will have completed the market access systems for a total of 525 kinds of food products in 28 categories, according to the annual conference of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine yesterday.

The establishment of the systems started in 2002 with five categories grain, salt, sauce, vinegar and edible oil. It was followed by 10 categories consisting mainly of meat and dairy products, and 13 categories consisting of tea, wine, and egg products.

To date, more than 80,000 food enterprises have acquired market access permit certificates. Next year the administration will further set up access systems for cosmetics and food-related products such as packaging and cooking utensils.

"With the completion of the systems, the quality of food products in China has been much improved, and food processing industries have been effectively regulated," Li said.

The administration cancels the production qualifications of between 10 and 20 enterprises every month for various quality defects.

In another development, an archives record system for additives applied by food processing enterprises, will be put into effect early next year.

"Enterprises will have to make it public what additives they are using and what they are not," according to Wu Jianping, director of food production and supervision of the administration.

"The archives will upgrade food production safety from the source," he said.

This year, China has been confronted with food safety problems, especially in areas of poisonous additives. Recent cases include carcinogenic mandarin and turbot fish, and ducks and hens that were fed cancer-causing Sudan Red dye to make their yolks red.

"Another importance of the archives system is that it will be able to differentiate between guilty and innocent food producers," Wu said. "Such a record system will at least salvage the innocent ones."

Food safety supervision is especially difficult in the Chinese mainland due to the fact there are more than 350,000 small food processing outlets with less than 10 staff each.

With backward facilities and poorly educated staff, the outlets usually fail to reach the required quality standards, and has increased supervision difficulty, Li said.

In northern Shaanxi Province, local governments have sent food quality supervision cadres to patrol streets in the urban and rural areas.

"Only through regionalizing and strengthening supervision responsibilities can we solve these issues," Wu said.

China has also made remarkable achievements in improving the quality of food products for export.

Statistics show that Chinese enterprises made a 20 percent increase year-on-year in food exports at the end of last month.

(China Daily December 19, 2006)

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