16 June 2019
Ensuring food safety has become a top priority of China's top leaders. Photo: Bloomberg
Ensuring food safety has become a top priority of China's top leaders. Photo: Bloomberg

POLICY WATCH: Govt steps up food and drug safety campaign

Local governments across China are undertaking a massive revamp of their food and drug administration systems after the nation’s top leaders gave top priority to the issue.

The Shanghai, Anhui, Zhejiang and Heilongjiang governments are in the process of establishing a unified supervision and management agency in their respective jurisdictions to tighten monitoring of the food and pharmaceutical sectors.

Market watchers believe that with the implementation of the new regulatory body, the requirement for food and drug safety detection and monitoring will be raised to a new level.

As a result, businesses involved in monitoring food and drug safety, including scientific laboratory and equipment makers as well as software developers, will benefit from the reform. According to some estimates, the overall industry engaged in food safety monitoring, detection and testing could be worth more than 10 billion yuan (US$1.65 billion).

Under the plan, local governments are integrating their food and drug safety, industry and commerce and quality assurance departments into one agency in a bid to centralize the authority to monitor the market situation.

Shanghai’s New Pudong District, for example, has established a new market monitoring authority replacing the three agencies in charge of industry and commerce, quality monitoring and food and drugs. Similar reforms are being implemented in other local governments such as Qingdao of Shandong province and Anhui province, according to media reports.

The reform started at the top with the restructuring of the state-level food and drug administration system in May. The reform is expected to substantially enhance the government’s supervision and management capabilities with regard to food and drug safety.

This came after a series of scandals that raised serious doubts on the quality of food and pharmaceutical products in the country. 

China has become highly vulnerable to food and drug safety risks stemming from a lack of market discipline and weak capabilities in quality management, said Zhang Yong, head of the China Food and Drug Administration.

To eliminate these safety risks, Zhang said, authorities will strengthen supervision over dairy and meat products, cooking oil, liquor, food additives and children’s food.

The administration will launch special campaigns to ensure food safety in rural areas, rural-urban fringe zones, schools, workshops and online stores.

It will also crack down on the production and sale of shoddy pharmaceuticals, illegal use of banned drugs in cosmetics and illegal sale and manufacturing of medical instruments.

The government will not hesitate to revise laws and regulations to make them more relevant in promoting food and drug safety, Zhang said.

The official also promised to intensify the approval and evaluation systems for food and drugs entering the market and step up the campaign against substandard food and drug enterprises.

Companies, consumers and the media should reinforce the government’s efforts to supervise and administer the food and drug industries, he added.

– Contact the reporter at [email protected]




EJ Insight writer

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