China's food quality and safety 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 types 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 further categories consisting mainly of meat and dairy products and 13 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 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 improved and the food processing industries effectively regulated.
The administration cancels the production qualifications of between 10 and 20 enterprises every month for various quality defects.
In another development an archive record system for additives used by food processing enterprises will be come 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 relation to poisonous additives. Recent cases include carcinogenic mandarin and turbot fish and ducks and hens fed cancer-causing Sudan Red dye to make their egg yolks red.
"Another importance of the archives system is that it will allow to differentiate between guilty and innocent food producers," Wu said. "Such a record system will at least help the innocent."
Food safety supervision is especially difficult in the Chinese mainland because there are more than 350,000 small food processing outlets with less than 10 staff. With antiquated facilities and poorly educated staff the outlets usually fail to reach the required quality standards and have supervision difficulties.
In northern Shaanxi Province local governments have sent food quality supervision officials 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)