I. Safety Conditions of Chinese Food Exports
Chinese food products are exported to more than 200 countries and regions. Among the top ten are Japan, the United States, the Republic of Korea, Hong Kong, Russia, Germany, Malaysia, the Netherlands, Indonesia and Britain. Statistics show that quality rating of Chinese food exports is very high.
According to statistics of Chinese quality supervision agencies, from 2004 to 2006, the number of batches of food items exported from the US to China was 17222, 22584 and 28398 respectively. Among them 169, 259 and 259 batches were found to fail quality check. The percentage of unqualified items was 0.98%, 1.15% and 0.91%. 89459, 81754 and 94442 batches of food were exported from China to the US. Among them 925, 845 and 756 batches failed the quality check by the US FDA with the rate being 1.03%, 1.03% and 0.80%. In the meantime, 324245, 279156 and 275446 batches of Chinese food were exported to Japan, out of which 492, 395 and 459 batches were not up to the standard set by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare of Japan. The percentage was 0.15%, 0.14% and 0.17% respectively. Chinese food exports to EU were 96988, 87464 and 91322 batches. Among them 98, 71 and 151 batches were declared below quality criteria by EU member states with the rate being 0.10%, 0.08% and 0.17%.
These figures testify to the fact that more than 99% of Chinese food exports meet applicable standards which is in parallel with the rate of US food exports to China, even a little higher.
Data from countries and regions that import Chinese food also show that Chinese food exports are safe.
According to statistics of Australia, from April to September in 2006, the rate of Chinese food exports that passed quality standards was 98%, which averaged the rate of its total food imports.
Food products consumed in Hong Kong are mainly from mainland China. According to the two food safe reports issued this year by the Food Safety Centre of Hong Kong Food and Environment Hygiene Department, who conducted two random tests of food items on a large scale, its overall quality rating of food reached 99.2% and 99.6%.
II. Food safety supervision regime in China
China has a strict regime in place to monitor and supervise food exports. Only companies that register with quality supervision and quarantine agencies are llowed to provide raw material to companies that manufacture exported foods, which in turn have to go through hygiene registration and are up to standards. The roduction procedure is monitored by quality supervision and quarantine agencies. Exporters are required to put labels on their products so that they could be traced or recalled for quality check. Before being exported, each and every batch of the products will be checked by Exit and Entry quality supervision and quarantine agencies. Only those who pass the check are given green light. If required by importing countries, official certificates will be issued by Exit and Entry quality supervision and quarantine agencies. In this way food exports safety is effectively ensured. In recent years, delegations from Europe, the US, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asian countries have inspected the food export supervision regime of China and have expressed satisfaction.
China has always attached great importance to opinions and feedbacks from importing countries and regions regarding quality and safety of Chinese food exports. In light of recent incidents, to further strengthen safety of food exports, the Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) in China has taken a series of additional measures. Firstly, checks and tests have been increased. When the exported items fail to match the export certificates, or are found to be problematic, they will be banned from exportation. Warning will be issued on the AQSIQ website so as to increase checks and tests on all food items produced by the company or declared by export agents. Companies that violate regulations will be put on the blacklist and barred from exportation. Secondly, random inspections will be increased of items like toothpaste that are not covered under compulsory checks. Thirdly, starting from September 1, 2007, all food exports that have passed quality inspection and quarantine checks are required to put labels on sale and transportation packages. Fourthly, immediate investigation and timely actions will be taken in response to information from importing countries and regions regarding unsafe food items. Fifthly, a blacklist of companies exporting unsafe products will be set up so as to crack down on illegal exports.
III. Calls for scientific and fair attitude
It is our hope that, on the basis of safeguarding bilateral cooperation and exchanges, governments concerned will properly handle food safety issue and treat Chinese food exports in a scientific and fair manner. Certain isolated cases should not be blown out of proportion to mislead the public into thinking that all food from China is unsafe. A case of Chinese company which violated laws and regulations should not be expanded to be the failure of the food safety regime of the Chinese Government. To exaggerate and complicate the issue is not conducive to healthy growth of bilateral trade, or to the overall bilateral relations. We hope that governments concerned can work together, in scientific and truth-seeking manner, to deal with food safety issue and to ensure health of the public.