Finding an appropriate balance between regulation and industry self-regulation on food safety is one of the keys to the success of China’s new food safety law, a policy adviser has said.
Speaking about the new law, which became applicable in China last month, EAS Asia Adviser Jie Hu said that industry players’ careful food safety control and regulators’ effective audit could contribute largely to its implementation.
“There have been a series of food safety scandals in recent years in China that have seriously undermined consumer confidence, and the new law aims to restore confidence from domestic consumers and international trade partners on the safety of the food products made in China, ” said Ms Hu. “The development of the law is a significant step, and improving food safety issues in China will be a long-term process.”
The new law has introduced a set of comprehensive monitoring and reporting procedures, stricter inspections, and supervision on product quality. It aims to implement an integrated “farm-to-fork” approach on food safety control; cut down on regulatory overlaps and conflict among enforcement bodies, and increase the legal liability of food producers. It also places specific responsibilities for food safety on the food sector.
Ms Hu said: “The food safety problems in the past have mostly been generated by some irresponsible producers who cheated the quality control and the inspection system to make a profit. It is unrealistic to think that this irresponsible behaviour would disappear overnight with the implementation of the new law. It is equally unrealistic to expect that the government could inspect at all stages of the production process of all food producers.”
“Having said that,” she added, “it is worth noting that it is the first time that industry’s role in safeguarding food safety is clarified in such fashion and China needs to go through the process of engaging and obliging the food sector to develop more effective self regulation in food safety management.”
To hear the full seven-minute podcast interview with Jie Hu, visit www.eas.asia