China's food quality and safety (full text)

Information Office of the State Council of the PeoplesRepublicof China

August 2007, Beijing

The quality and safety of food is a major benchmark oftheeconomic development and peoples living conditions of acountry.Adhering to the people-oriented approach, the Chinesegovernmenthas always attached great importance to food quality andsafety.Moreover, sticking to the principle of nipping problems inthe bud,it has built and improved a supervisory system andmechanism forfood safety, strengthened legislation and the settingof relevantstandards, exercised strict quality control regardingfood,actively promoted international exchanges and cooperation inthisrespect, and has greatly raised public awareness of foodsafety.Thanks to such efforts, the overall level of food quality inChinais being steadily enhanced, the situation of food safetyiscontinuously improving, and the order in food productionandoperation have markedly turned for the better.

I.Food Production and Food Quality

1. The Quality and Safety Level of Processed Food IsSteadilyImproving

(1) Rapid and Sound Development of theFood-processingIndustry

In recent years, Chinas food industry has maintained fastandsound growth, with a steady increase in economicbenefits.Foodstuffs can be classified by their raw materials andprocessingtechniques into 525 kinds in 28 categories: processedgrainproducts; edible oil, fat and fat products; seasonings;meatproducts; dairy products; soft drinks; convenient food;biscuits;canned food; iced drinks; fast-frozen food; potato anddilatedfood; candies (including chocolate and chocolate products);tea;alcoholic beverages; vegetable products; fruit products;roastedseeds and nuts; egg products; cocoa and bakery coffeeproducts;sugar; processed aquatic products; starch and starchproducts;pastries; bean products; bee products; special diet food,andothers. At present, China has 448,000 enterprises engagedinfoodstuff production and processing. Among them, 26,000enterprisesof designated scale occupy 72 percent of the market,taking theleading role in terms of output and sales revenue; 69,000areenterprises not up to the designated scale and those with morethanten employees, taking up a market share of 18.7 percent;and353,000 are small businesses or workshops with fewer thantenemployees, with a market share of 9.3 percent.

Statistics show that, in 2006, industrial food enterprisesofdesignated scale generated 2,158.695 billion yuan of outputvalue(excluding tobacco), accounting for 6.8 percent of thenationalindustrial output value, and up 23.5 percent year on year.Theaverage annual industrial added value and profit ofprocessingenterprises of grain, oil, meat and dairy products allexceeded 20percent. The output of major foodstuffs in 2006 were:wheat flour,51.93 million tons; edible vegetable oil, 19.855million tons;fresh frozen meat, 11.125 million tons; dairyproducts, 14.596million tons; beer, 35.152 million kl; and softdrinks, 42.198million tons. These figures show rises of 28.2percent, 17.5percent, 24.0 percent, 23.5 percent, 14.7 percent and21.5 percentyear on year, respectively. In the first six months of2007, theaccumulated output value of the food industry amounted to1,281.62billion yuan, up 29.9 percent as compared with thecorrespondingperiod last year. The output of beer, edible oil, softdrinks andgourmet powder led the world.
At present, the development of Chinas food industry displaysthefollowing features:

One, the processing techniques and equipment of somefoodenterprises reach or approach the advanced internationallevel.Large meat, dairy product, beverage and beer producers allhaveworld first-class production and testing facilities,whichguarantees the quality of their products. The developmentandapplication of such key processing techniques asmembrane-setiontechnology, physical property modification,cold-aseptic filling,concentration and cold processing has narrowedChinas gap withthe world advanced level in terms of processingtechnology andequipment.

Two, quality control of the enterprises has become morescientificand standard. So far, 107,000 food producers haveobtained marketaccess permits regarding quality and safety, and2,675 have beengranted hazard analysis and critical control point(HACCP)certificates.

Three, the structure of products is being improved to cater totheincreasingly diverse demands of consumers. The proportionofintensively or deeply processed foodstuffs to the total outputoffoodstuffs keeps increasing. For instance, liquid dairiesnowaccount for more than 85 percent of the total output ofdairyproducts; colas no longer dominate the market, as a result ofthemushrooming of packed drinking water and fruit, vegetable andteadrinks; special flour above second grade accounts for 65 percentofthe total output of wheat flour; standard rice above firstgradeaccounts for 88 percent of the total output of rice, andspecialrice for 33.9 percent of the total output of rice; andGrades I andII oil (salad oil and quality culinary oil according topreviousnational standards) accounts for 58.5 percent of the totaloutputof edible vegetable oil.

(2) Continuous Improvement of Food Quality

One, the acceptance rate of foodstuffs on the whole issteadilyrising. The rate was 77.9 percent in the 2006 nationalfoodstuffssample survey, and it rose to 85.1 percent in a similarsurvey inthe first half of 2007. The level of food quality andsafetyremains stable, with a gradual upturn.

Two, the quality of food produced nationwide is improving. Inthefirst half of 2007, the 31 provinces, autonomous regionsandmunicipalities directly under the Central Government onthemainland of China reported an average 89.2-percent acceptancerateof foodstuffs, and the figure in 14 of them surpassed90percent.

Three, the quality of food in key sectors is fairly high.Thanksto the countrys endeavors to improve the work of foodproducersand processors, the quality of 525 kinds of foodstuffs in28categories has been enhanced to various degrees, withremarkableprogress in the quality of food with a large dailyconsumption.According to statistics, the ten foodstuffs with thelargestconsumption are edible oil, fat and fat products;alcoholicbeverages; aquatic products; processed grain products;soft drinks;meat products; dairy products; seasonings; starch andstarchproducts; and sugar. In the first half of 2007, samplesurveysshowed a 90-percent or higher acceptance rate of all theabove tenfoodstuffs except aquatic products, whose acceptance ratewas 85percent. That of meat products was 97.6 percent.
4. Promoting Food Trade

The food safety cooperative mechanisms established betweenChinaand other countries have greatly promoted bilateralandmultilateral cooperation to ensure the safety of foodstuffstradedamong them and ease the wide concerns about food safety.Forinstance, the Sino-Japanese cooperative mechanism plays a keyrolein ensuring the safety of Chinese food exported to Japan.AfterJapans release of its Positive List System, theChinesegovernment, through communications and negotiations,persuadedJapan to accept its reasonable proposals and adjust someprojectsaccordingly, and co-sponsored three demonstrations andeightspecial training workshops to help Chinas food exportenterprisesfurther standardize the use and administration ofpesticide andveterinary medicines, improve the quality tracingsystem andguarantee the quality and safety of food exported toJapan. TheChina-US food safety cooperative mechanism plays asimilar role.Since the end of 2005, Chinas entry-exit inspectionandquarantine authorities have continuously found residuesofprohibited medicines, pollutants and pathogenic microbes in USmeatproducts exported to China. Their timely notification ofsuchinformation let the US learn of Chinas legalrequirementsconcerning food safety, thus effectively protectingChineseconsumers as well as ensuring healthy development of USexport ofmeat products to China. In 2004 and 2005, the twocountries, underthis cooperative mechanism, evaluated the safetyand sanitation ofChinas exported cooked poultry products. TheChina-EU food safetycooperative mechanism also works well insolving problems bothsides are concerned about. Through timelycommunication and on thebasis of risk assessment, China has solvedproblems in the importof pork products from some dioxin-affected EUcountries. Whilecontinuously improving its own food safetymanagement and epidemicprevention and control work, it has activelycooperated with the EUin undertaking hygienic system inspection andrisk appraisal whichhelps build confidence in Chinas cookedpoultry products. The EUhas worked out a timetable to resumeimports of Chinas cookedpoultry products in 2007.

Food is the first necessity of man, and it is the most directandmost important consumption product of mankind. China isaresponsible country, and the Chinese government is devotedtoworking for the benefits of the people. Over the years, theChinesegovernment has endeavored to improve food quality, ensurefoodsafety and protect consumers around the world. But, it mustbepointed out that China is still a developing country, andtheoverall level of food safety, including the standards andtheindustrialization level of food production, still lags behindthatof developed countries. China has a long way to go to improvethequality of foodstuffs. Food quality and safety is a commonconcernof the human society and a shared duty of theinternationalcommunity. As a large importer and exporter of food,China is keento strengthen exchanges and cooperation with othercountries andmake unremitting efforts to ensure the safety of foodand promotethe healthy growth of the global food trade.

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