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Chinese president talks tough about food safety plans

By RJ Whitehead , 10-Jan-2017

© iStock
© iStock

President Xi Jinping said that China could not be too rigorous in promoting food safety, as the government set out its plans to impose “the strictest supervision” and increase penalties for offenders.

"Improving food safety concerns the health and life of more than 1.3bn people in China, and we can never be too strict on the issue," the president said at a meeting of the Food Safety Commission of the State Council, China's Cabinet last week. 

As he acknowledged the scale of the problems that still remained, Xi also urged officials to strive for to "the strictest standards" and penalise companies with a poor record more severely. He also announced a new team of dedicated food safety inspectors.

Echoing his boss, premier Li Kegiang urged regional governments to monitor their local food chains and improve supervision. Improving safety should start at grassroots level and be backed up by suitable penalties and resources, as a time when many Chinese inspection labs lack adequate capacity for testing.

A mainstay of concern in China, food safety once again come top of a Tsinghua University poll of the 10 safety issues that most worry people last year.

Yet officials believe that China has witnessed some improvements since it adopted a revised food safety law in 2015. Official testing shows that almost 97% of samples met standards after the revisions—an increase of two percentage points over the previous year.

Zhang Gaoli, head of the Food Safety Commission of the State Council, China's Cabinet, said China's food safety situation is stable in general but at the same time still challenging and complex. 

Zhang, who is also a vice-premier, urged officials to adopt strict measures to fight irregularities and consider the application of criminal punishments in cases of food adulteration and fake food products.

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