The first national standard for food-stuffing is likely to be announced later this year, laying out mandatory requirements for fillings used in popular items such as moon-cakes and frozen sweet dumplings, an official said.
The new standard will eliminate the use of fillings that contain pathogenic bacteria, said Cao Desheng, an official with China General Chamber of Commerce, responsible for drafting the standard.
An entire batch of food products will be labeled "Not Qualified" if even a slightly strange smell, pollutant or microbe is detected in one of its packets, he said.
That means the entire batch will have no chance of entering the market.
The draft standard will also ask producers to spell out all the ingredients used in a product, and give the physical, chemical and hygienic qualities of the fillings.
The draft is seen as "necessary and timely" because fillings have become an important part of the food industry and are big time business now, he said.
For long, there have been calls for stricter control over the quality of fillings used in food products. In the past few years, several food scandals have involved stuffing.
For instance, media reports in 2001 alleged that the Nanjing branch of famous food chain Guanshengyuan used leftovers from the previous year as fillings for its moon-cakes. The delicacies are sold during the Mid-Autumn Festival, which falls on the 15th day of the eighth lunar month.
The scandal ended with the company's Nanjing branch applying for bankruptcy in 2002. It also ruined the whole brand and dealt a blow to consumers' faith in top brands.
The new national standard will ensure that such spurious products don't enter the market in the first place. It covers a wide range of food products, from stuffed breads and pastries to ice cream and sweet dumplings, he said.
The only exception will be frozen dumplings -- their fillings are not covered by the standard. Cao said that's because the dumpling stuffing is "of various kinds and too complicated" and "usually produced by the dumpling producers themselves".
"The draft has been submitted to the Standardization Administration of China. We will conduct research in enterprises and listen to different voices, and try to improve it so that it can be published before the year-end," Beijing Daily Messenger quoted him as saying.
(China Daily July 24, 2007)