Number of food processors to pose challenge for recall plan, says official

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 28 August, 2007, 12:00am

The central government is expected to introduce a recall system for food products amid a nationwide campaign to ensure food safety and product quality after a series of scares in domestic and global markets.

But Li Changjiang, head of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said executing recalls would be difficult because most food processors were small enterprises.

'We are conducting consultations with related experts, enterprises and government agencies in regard to setting up a recall system for food products,' Mr Li said yesterday.

'The most difficult point is that most food processors in China are small enterprises and vendors. There are about 350,000 of them.'

Beijing is intensifying its crackdown on unsafe or defective products. But despite the international pressure to improve the quality of its exports, mainland consumers are the biggest victims of substandard or fake products.

Poor quality control, especially if it results from corruption, could also hurt the government's trustworthiness at home.

An internet poll conducted earlier this year by Xinhua indicated that product safety - especially food quality - was becoming a pressing public concern. Nearly 92 per cent of the 3,000 respondents said they were worried about food safety, and 78 per cent said they thought regulation of food safety was poor.

Last week the government started a four-month nationwide campaign to address quality and safety problems. Mr Li said authorities should hold news conferences at least once a month to report on the campaign's progress.

He said the State Council had held the first national work meeting on product quality and food safety in seven years.

The council has enacted regulations on the supervision of product quality and food safety. It has also issued a circular that stipulated that manufacturers must take primary responsibility for ensuring product quality and food safety.

The cabinet has established a committee headed by Vice-Premier Wu Yi to address the issues. In a speech at a nationwide conference on Thursday, Ms Wu described the campaign as a 'special battle' to protect people's health and the good image of mainland products.