OCTOBER 7TH 2015
CHINA REVISES ITS FOOD SAFETY LAWS (FSL) FOR THE FIRST TIME IN SIX YEARS
After years of scandals regarding decades old frozen meat, now infamous ‘gutter oil’ and perhaps the most notorious of all- the melamine milk scandal of 2008, Chinese authorities have finally tightened the vice on food safety. The move comes as recent Pew research reveals that food safety concerns in China have tripled since the milk scandal.
October 1st may go down as an important day for both the food industry and for quality control in general. After months of proposals and briefings, the Food Safety Law (FSL) has finally been officially revised- the first time in six years.
Cutting corners and skimming from the top will become increasingly vexing with controls coming from all ends. The new legislation will rest on more stringent criminal and civil laws for violating parties. Controls will also be reinforced at the consumer end, with revelations of increased incentives for whistleblowers. Food exporters to China will also need to register their transactions through a new online system.
While the revised law shows promise with the banning of highly toxic pesticides and new regulations on labeling, perhaps the biggest changes regard institutional delegation and streamlining. At the core of many of China’s domestic issues rests the concept of streamlining and devolution. In many instances it remains a case of vested interests, ‘stove piping’ of information and confusion of jurisdiction.
The new FSL more clearly defines each agency’s responsibilities. More importantly, the new system comprises of just two regulatory bodies: the Ministry of Agriculture, now entrusted with monitoring all agricultural products; and the China Food and Drug Administration (CDFA), for goods falling within processing categories. Behind these two bodies rests the National Health and Family Planning Commission, charged with setting national food safety standards.
The CDFA’s new role usurps power in a long game of musical chairs. Once the responsibility of the Ministry of Health, the old State Food and Drug Administration, and the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), the CDFA will now be tested in its ability to bring trust back to consumers.
For China, quality control continues to be a pressing issue at the forefront of legislative and commercial concerns.
Annex Asia Publishing