National food recall system to be set up

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 30 May, 2007, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 30 May, 2007, 12:00am

The mainland plans to set up its first system to manage food recalls following a string of cases that have raised concerns about the nation's lax regulation of food safety.


The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine was drafting the rules to put the new system in place, a mainland newspaper said yesterday. A spokesman for the administration could not be reached for comment.


The rules, which will apply to foreign and domestic food producers, should be finished by the end of this year, the China Daily said.


The government has previously launched mass food recalls. In 2002, it recalled milk powder manufactured by US pharmaceutical and health-care company Wyeth, and sought to track down products containing a banned red dye in 2005.


However, the mainland handles such problems on a case-by-case basis with only one section of a 2002 rule mentioning recalls. Experts say the country lacks a comprehensive national regulation.


'There is nothing wrong with having local regulations, but the central government should do something to actively follow up, in order to maintain the balance of the whole market on a national level,' said Zhang Yongjian, director of the Research Centre for Development and Regulation of the Food and Drug Industry at the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences.


Attention has recently focused on exports of substandard foodstuffs from the mainland.


Wheat gluten contaminated with melamine was used in pet food, killing animals in the US, cough syrup and toothpaste tainted with diethylene glycol has caused health scares in Central America and several US states have banned catfish from the mainland for containing the banned antibiotic fluoroquinolone.


The State Food and Drug Administration plans to blacklist food producers that violate quality laws.


Additional reporting by Laura Liu


Food fright


Some recent scares involving toxic mainland products


Pet Food


Melamine, a chemical used in fertiliser, used in pet food sold in the US, killing hundreds of pets


Toothpaste


Diethylene glycol, commonly used in antifreeze, found in mainland-made toothpaste in the Dominican Republic and Panama


Cough syrup


Diethlyene glycol, mislabelled as glycerin, used in cough syrup sold in Panama, killing about 100 people


Catfish


US officials find a banned antibiotic in imported Chinese catfish