The first batch of domestic-made food labeled with production license numbers and the logo of "quality safety" (QS) has recently been permitted to enter the market, an important step of the state authorities to ensure food security for the imminent Spring Festival consumption hike.
The State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) has established a "market check-in" system for 15 categories of food, and more than 15,000 domestic enterprises processing these foods have been verified as reaching the standards.
The security problem is looming large as China's food industry has maintained a rapid development in recent years. The use of moldy, rotten or non-food materials and abuse of additives are frequently found in the industry.
The issue has aroused great alarm. From 2001 to 2003, AQSIQ carried out a special survey on 15 categories of food, including rice, wheat powder, edible vegetable oil, soy sauce, vinegar, meat, dairy products and flavorings.
The results of the survey showed that China has 106,000 enterprises producing these foods, among which 70 percent are family workshops with no more than 10 employees, over 10 percent have no authorized business licenses, over half do not have their products inspected, and about 25 percent do not check the quality of materials before processing.
To eliminate the substandard production, AQSIQ began issuing production licenses to food processing enterprises from 2001, requiring them to meet demands in 10 specific aspects, including production facilities and environment, processing procedures, inspection equipment and capacity, quality control, as well as product storage, transportation and package.
AQSIQ has also required inspection of food products before they enter the market. Enterprises are urged to fulfill the legal obligation of ensuring the security of their products.
The quality watchdog has started to close down enterprises producing inferior rice, flour, edible oil, soy sauce and vinegar from Jan. 1, 2004.
It has also planned to expand the inspection to 28 categories of food this year, which will take in tealeaves and all sorts of cakes, cookies and snacks.
Meanwhile, AQSIQ will further step up its crackdown on unqualified food production, especially the use of non-food materials, livestock that died of illness and moldy or rotten materials for making food.
It will also launch a special campaign to clean up fake and inferior chemical pesticides and fertilizers, and to severely penalize those enterprises and people producing and selling highly toxic rat poison.
(Xinhua News Agency January 14, 2004)