China will publish its first food recall regulation by year's end in a bid to improve the quality of a food supply that has come under much criticism in recent months as contaminated exports have come to light in places like the US and Europe.
Wu Jianping, director general of the food production and supervision department of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, told China Daily the recall system mainly targets potentially dangerous and unapproved food products.
The regulation — expected to meet international standards — will require food and marketing companies to repossess and quarantine any products found to be hazardous to public health. "All domestic and foreign food producers and distributors will be obliged to follow the system," Wu said. "Implementing the recall system for all food products will be a gradual process."
Despite recent food scares Wu said the quality of food products in China had been on the rise, especially after the country set standards for food-related products in 2002, which contained a skeleton outline for a food recall system.
More than 80,000 food companies in 28 food categories have acquired market access permits since then.
The State Food and Drug Administration plans to blacklist food producers which break rules and serious violators may be barred from the market.
The World Health Organisation has acknowledged China's efforts to improve its food supply but said more needed to be done. "It is encouraging that authorities are reviewing their practices," a WHO food safety officer told AP-FoodTechnology.com. "However, there remains a great urgency for China to continue its efforts to ensure it has an effective, coordinated and appropriately resourced food control management system in place.
Despite the formation of the SFDA some years ago, "Food control remains spread among a number of government departments and administrations and without effective coordination and cooperation, concerns about the farm-to-table safety of food may arise on occasion," he said.