Thursday, May 9, 2013

Stronger Focus on Food Safety

In mid-March the Chinese Ministry of Health (MOH) asked for advice from the public in response to the draft of the 2013 National Food Safety Standard, according to CCM’s monthly report, Dairy Products China News 1303.

The draft is mainly a revision of some food safety national standards, including food products, detection methods, food additives, nutriment supplements, nutrition & special diet foods and requirements for production and operation. It has also been suggested that a General Standard of Nutrition Supplement for Pregnant, Post-Natal and Breastfeeding Women should be set up.

In view of the significance of food safety, this is the 2nd time that the public’s views have been collected for the draft. By the end of January, the China National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment (responsible for the risk assessment, monitoring,early warning and communication of national food safety, and food safety standards) had received 1,288 suggestions on the topic, leading it to draw up a draft on this basis.
The draft is also a response to a succession of food safety incidents. Mainly because of the quality scandal which hit Mengniu, the draft has an added Aflatoxin detection method and a quality standard for raw milk. The arguably low standard of raw milk has been widely considered as key to most of the quality scandals hitting the dairy sector, with different parties quarrelling about what standard should be applied, pushing the government to address the issue.

Alongside the draft, a number of administrative measures have been taken to prevent food quality accidents:

• The MOH has strengthened the supervision of food products through national surveillance. In late January, it indicated that the focus of 2013’s work will be upon addressing issues in several key areas, notably grain, vegetables, meat, dairy products, infant foods and illegal additives. Infant foods, formula and accessories are of special concern. 50%+ of China’s county level administrative regions should monitor for food contaminants and other harmful factors, according to the MOH

• In early March, Gansu Province detailed its food safety work in 2013. Dairy products, edible oil, liquor, meat, food additive and etc. are listed to be important aspects and supervisors at all levels have to attend a total of over 40 hours’ training about food safety
• In mid February, the Department of Health of Guangdong Province solicited the views of consumers in respect of a range of regional food safety standard revisions, citing its goals as being to encourage progress in food safety technology, independent innovation and industry development

• Sichuan Province organised the “One Hundred Days Action”around the theme “2013 food safety”. The programme divides into 4 stages, from 20 February to 31 July, emphasising relevant departments’ responsibility in food safety

During the sessions of the NPC & CPPCC (the National People’s Congress and the Chinese Political Consultative Conference), food safety was a topic frequently discussed. Infant formula attracted the most attention, especially after the establishment of Hong Kong’s regulatory limits on purchases of infant formula products. Mr. Zhou, director of the State of Administration for Industry & Commerce of China, revealed that it will release specific rules to reinforce the management of infant formula products, which would cover the whole production chain, although no details about the specific rules have been forthcoming to date.
Although domestic dairy products have gradually regained some consumers’ confidence, the perceptions amongst the public remain a major obstacle. The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China (AQSIQ) publishes data on qualification rates of domestic dairy products checked. It states that 99% of domestic dairy products are passing when checked nowadays, a rate higher than for imported dairy products. Mr. Yang, the deputy director of AQSIQ, announced that 0.26% of domestic dairy products failed when checked during 2011 and 2012, compared with a failure rate of 0.76% for imported dairy products in 2012; in the case of domestic infant formula the failure rate was 0.77% in 2012, 0.37% lower than for imported infant formula.

Clearly besides the various governmental actions, food companies are keen to play key roles in food safety, as demonstrating high levels of quality will be critical to their brand awareness an brand reputations. A good example of this was seen on World Consumer Rights Day (15 March), when Mengniu organised interactive activities nationwide to raise public awareness of consumer rights protection, in the process positioning its products as offering high quality and safety.

Table Contents of Dairy Products China News 1303:
Royal Dairy Growth Plan
Hong Kong Acts on Infant Formula Trade
The Price of Imported WMP Rises in March
Prospects for E-commerce
Stronger Focus on Food Safety
DMK Plans Expansion in China
Want Want China Prospers with Dairy
Strategy Adjustment at Black Cow
Modern Dairy Performs Well in H1 2013
Mengniu Launches New Ice Cream
By-health’s Strong Performance in 2012
MiMille Introduces Premium Infant Formula

Dairy Products China News, a monthly publication issued by CCM on 30th or 31st, offers you the latest information on new market dynamics, company development, new products, technology, packaging and raw material supply, etc. It also focuses on the government’s direction and polices, helping you get the whole picture of the industry. 

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