China is no stranger to food scandals. One of the latest controversies involved international retail giant Walmart. This January, investigators found that meat sold at the store and labeled as donkey meat was actually fox meat, which came from a local supplier. According to an official government report, Chinese police dealt with over 52,000 criminal food safety cases within the past three years. This number doesn’t represent the number of consumers affected — simply the number of infractions.
The Standing Committee of the China’s National People’s Congress is having its bi-monthly session right now, and lawmakers will be looking to improve upon existing regulations and laws concerning food producers and food safety.
“The draft amendment proposes that a unified supervision and management system is formed to encompass state- and local-level food and drug administration systems across the country,” said Zhang Yong, the director of the China Food & Drug Administration.
Many of the issues with food poisoning, illegal manufacturing, and mislabeled food have come as the result of weak local law enforcement, says CNTV. “The amendment also proposes harsher punishments for those who break the law. We will continue to work with criminal justice departments on food and pharmaceutical crimes,” promised Yong.
The proposed changes will, ideally, help to address the growing concern of Chinese consumers. According to a report by Asia Inspection, a food quality control company, over 50% of Chinese food processing firms failed routine safety inspections that took place in 2011. Not too long ago, in 2008, many were horrified when 54,000 infants were poisoned — and six died — after imbibing baby formula laced with industrial chemicals.
“Companies who implement a global food safety and quality program, like SQF and FSSC 22000, benefit from the processing of food and/or packaging being continually monitored to improve quality and safety”, stated Bryant Shillito, Business Development Process Manager for EAGLE Certification Group. “Independent certification that a supplier’s food safety and quality management system conforms to international and domestic food safety regulations protects a company’s brand integrity.”