Overview of the Food Safety System in China

 

Speaker:          John W. Jones, PhD, Consultant, International Food Safety and Trade Issues, Food Safety Consulting Services International, LLC, MD

 

The sustained trade of foods between China and the United States is fundamental to the economic well being of both countries.  Each country produces a wide variety of fresh and processed foods that are of the quality and safety demanded by Chinese and American consumers and which satisfy the laws and regulations of the two countries.  In 2007, the total value of agricultural products traded between the countries—primarily foods and food/feed ingredients—exceeded RMB 74 billion (US$9.5 billion).  Certainly, the value of bilateral food trade will continue to increase rapidly, to the benefit of producers and consumers in both countries, provided that issues that arise periodically pertaining to food safety and animal and plant health (i.e., sanitary and phytosanitary issues—SPS) can be prevented or resolved through cooperation of all involved government and private sector entities.

 

The events of 2007 concerning the safety of foods for human consumption and pet foods produced in China demonstrated the extraordinary sensitivity and public concern in the United States over the issue of food and feed safety.  These events brought into sharp focus the need for the two governments to work cooperatively to resolve emerging food safety issues, and for the food industries of China and the United States to redouble their efforts to ensure that only safe and high quality foods are introduced into bilateral trade channels.  On December 11, 2007, China and the United States signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MOA) aimed at ensuring that only safe foods and animal feeds are traded between the two countries.  This MOA specifies that China's General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) will put into place a registration and certification system for certain "designated covered products" exported from China to the United States -- certain categories of foods and pet foods which fall under the jurisdiction of the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).

 

This presentation will provide an overview of the food safety system of China, including a snapshot of China's agri-food sector and of the government regulatory and enforcement infrastructure that oversees  food safety.  It will also summarize FDA's ongoing efforts to establish in China the agency's first-ever permanent overseas presence.