China will establish a digital monitoring system for agricultural food products to ensure food sanitation and safety.
Fang Aiqing, deputy director of the market circulation and adjustment department of the Ministry of Commerce (MOC), said Thursday the system should also help avoid technical trade barriers set by other countries.
He said that food safety in China is good on the whole, but problems such as insecticide residue on fruit and vegetables, and fake products still remain in a few areas.
The MOC will cooperate with other ministries to create the monitoring system with the help of information technology, and the network will collect and analyze data on food safety in slaughter houses, wholesale and retail markets.
Credit will be given to enterprises that perform well, and a "black list" of unsafe enterprises would be publicized via the Internet, Fang said.
China has instituted over 200 laws, regulations or standards on food safety at national or regional levels, including two sets of new criteria on the wholesale and retail market of agricultural and related products.
Fang noted that the country will further institute or amend 500 criteria on food processing and circulation in five years to enhance food safety.
China will encourage traditional agricultural markets in cities to change to chain supermarkets, added Fang.
The markets served as the main retail place of agricultural produce for Chinese families but are often beset by sanitation problems and lax management.
The further improvement of food sanitation and safety will also help promote Chinese agricultural exports, Fang said.
China sold 13.6 billion US dollars worth of food and live animals worldwide in the first 10 months, mainly fishery products, vegetables, fruit, meat and meat products, according to figures from Chinese Customs.
But technical trade barriers set by other countries such as limitations on pesticide residue and additives still hindered Chinese exports, trade experts said.
"Anyway, we will improve the food safety to serve the health need of both Chinese and foreigners," Fang said.
(Xinhua News Agency November 28, 2003)