Chinese Health Ministry to lead implementation of food safety law

BEIJING, March 2 (Xinhua) — China’s Health Ministry is to take the lead among the government’s departments tasked with implementing the new Food Safety Law, Vice Health Minister Chen Xiaohong said Monday.

Detailing the division of responsibilities for enforcing the law, Chen said a joint leading group consisting of nine departments had been founded to deal with nationwide food safety supervision.

The Health Ministry would mainly handle food safety monitoring, evaluation and investigation of food safety emergencies, Chen told a press conference.

The Health Ministry would also be responsible for the general coordination of departments and promotion of local health authority reform.

The Ministry of Industry and Information Technology was committed to creating a credit record system among food manufacturers and strengthening self-discipline in the food industry.

The Agriculture Ministry should take effective measures to secure the quality and safety of farm produce at source and promote standardized agricultural production.

The State Administration for Industry and Commerce was responsible for regular inspections of retail and wholesale markets and the establishment of a long-term supervision system on food distribution links.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine along with the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) would mainly deal with producer access to the industry and the market.

The SFDA would also conduct large inspections of sanitation at restaurants.
China’s legislature approved — with 158 votes out of 165 — the Food Safety Law Saturday, providing a legal basis for the government to strengthen food safety control “from production line to dining table”.

The law requires the State Council, or Cabinet, to set up a state-level food safety commission to oversee the entire food monitoring system, whose lack of efficiency has long been blamed for repeated scandals.

The draft law had been revised several times since it was submitted to the National People’s Congress Standing Committee for the first reading in December 2007.