On 7 April 2013, the State Council issued the 2013 “Food Safety Supervision Work Plan” to specify the priority supervisory targets of food-related problems and illustrate measures to better prevent and control food safety incidents. The plan highlights special rectifications on the following aspects:
The whole supply chain of food
The rectification scope will cover areas from planting, farming, livestock butchering, production, circulation, catering to import & export for investigating potential risks. The occurrence of food industry scandals involving utilization of illegal food additives has had a profound impact on consumer confidence. Food manufacturers must be more disciplined and have a greater sense of social responsibilities and must avoid using substances included in the List of illegal inedible substances and food additives liable to be abused.
Feed, pesticides and veterinary drug
Pesticide residues are implicated in the pathologies of numerous chronic diseases. The use of banned pesticides and veterinary drugs and their respective safe use limits will be a major focus and a key area for increased regulation and monitoring. The overuse of antibiotics and illegal use of growth hormones will also be a primary focal point.
Products purporting to have clinical benefits additional to their nutritional composition i.e. health foods are also an area earmarked for closer regulatory scrutiny. Competent authorities will pay more attention to health food products that claim to alter body composition, lower blood sugar and relieve fatigue. In tandem with this initiative regulatory bodies are also cracking down on products bearing falsified approval numbers, while also preventing illegal marketing and false advertisement. Any manufacturers adulterating products with pharmaceutical agents will at a minimum have manufacturing certificates and licenses revoked.
The plan represents a comprehensive framework for regulating and monitoring the food industry. In addition to the afore-mentioned industry sectors, food labeling, dairy products, alcoholic products, seasoning, food contact materials and gutter oil are also areas highlighted for preferential governmental regulation and supervision.
In order to carry out the rectification in a more effective way and to ensure a smoother transition to tighter industrial regulation active interim measures are being introduced. Firstly current laws and regulations are to be amended and updated taking into account the current status of the industry. These changes will include changes to the Food Safety Law, Regulations on the Supervision and Control over Health Food and Regulations on the administration of Catering Kitchen Wastes and resource utilization. Secondly, by the end of the year a comprehensive reassessment and categorization of all food national standards is expected to be finished. Standards regarding pathogenic microorganisms, use of food additives and pesticide residue are currently under revision. Thirdly, the government will carry out risk monitoring based on three critical lists: the List of illegal inedible substances and food additives liable to be abused, List of Illegal Substances in Health Food and List of Banned Drugs and Substances in Feed and breed aquatics.
Risk information exchange and dissemination are also of critical importance for consumers’ health so an electronic traceability system is under development which will be used for tracing the flow of infant formula milk powder, meat, vegetables, beverages and health food.