China food safety

Don't judge China food safety on international standards, says official

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 11 July, 2013, 3:30pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 24 July, 2013, 11:20am

China’s status as a developing country should be taken into account when evaluating the country’s food safety standards, said a senior food safety official.

“If we were to take European Union air quality standards and apply them to Beijing, we would fail every day,” Wang Zhutian, assistant to the director at the National Centre for Food Safety Risk Assessment, told China National Radio on Wednesday.

Wang stressed China was “still developing” and thus needed to base its own food safety standards on “national conditions” rather than blindly following international ones.

He said the country needed to use its own risk assessment methods to establish its own food safety standards because this would be good for the entire food industry.

“I’m not saying we should ignore the standards of developed countries. We can still learn from their advanced assessment methods … and use them as indicators,” he said.

China has been hit by a succession of food problems in the last year – a lengthy list that includes cadmium-tainted rice, copper-sulfate tainted preserved duck eggs, fake mutton made from rat meat, pesticide-laced ginger and recycled cooking oil.

A string of “food forgeries” including eggs, beef, tofu and honey have also made news headlines in recent months.

National food safety standards fell under increasing scrutiny in 2008, after melamine-tainted milk powder affected an estimated 300,000 people - including 50,000 babies, six of whom were eventually killed.

Meanwhile, the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Wednesday announced at a regular news conference that the government was looking to strengthen standards concerning food contaminants, fungal toxins, food additives and food labels.

The overhaul is part of a five-year plan to upgrade the country’s notorious food safety regulations.

According to the plans, first released in June last year, the government will improve national food safety standards by "revamping outdated standards, reviewing and abolishing any contradicting or overlapping standards and working out new regulation", state news agency Xinhua reported on Wednesday.