China to overhaul food safety rules

Beijing, June 20:

China promised today to overhaul its food safety rules, amid rising concerns abroad over the risks of consuming its produce.

“The top priority for building a food safety sta-ndards system is to revise as soon as possible the rules for farm produce and processed food,” said the director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, Liu Pingjun. Liu said that at the end of 2006, some of China’s 1,965 national food safety standards, of which 634 are mandatory, dated back 12 years. He pledged to ensure none of the rules were more than four and a half years old and complied with international standa-rds, although it did not specify how that would be accomplished.

The revision follows recent global controversies over a range of Chinese pr-oducts exported overseas ranging from toothpaste to herbal teas to pet food. US authorities rejected 257 Chinese food shipme-nts in April, far more than from any other country.

The US has rejected Chinese products ranging from tainted dietary supplements and toxic cosm-etics to fish and herbal te-as in recent months for poor hygiene standards.