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New Technology to Keep Food Safe

19 June 2013

CHINA - Chinese Vice-Premier Wang Yang has called on public and civil groups to help supervise food safety, particularly through modern technology.

"Given major challenges facing the nation's food safety, like the colossal number of small businesses and a decentralised food production and processing model, a supervisory net highlighting the general public is essential to help ensure food safety," he said at the fifth China food safety forum at the start of national food safety week.

Non-government industry associations of food producers should also play a role in enhancing food safety and quality, he said.

Mr Wang cited practices in Guangdong province as an example.

"I regularly get text messages sent by the Guangdong food safety authority asking mobile subscribers, including me, to report any related irregularities or even crimes," he said.

New-technology tools such as text messaging should be widely used to facilitate public involvement in food safety supervision, he said.

The forum was held by government agencies including the food safety committee under the State Council, the Ministry of Public Security, China Food and Drug Administration and the National Health and Family Planning Commission.

Xu Jinghe, director of the legal affairs department under the China Food and Drug Administration, said that more public supervision is being considered in the ongoing revision to the country's Food Safety Law.

"The revised law will better encourage and facilitate that," he said.

Previous reports said the revision was expected to be finished by the end of the year.

Specific items such as rewarding tips and reports from the public, corporate insurance or self-insurance programs, online food trading, and a food safety tracing mechanism are being considered, Mr Xu said.

Special funds have been established in some regions to reward useful public reports of food safety scandals.

But "few worked well to encourage public involvement," he said.

If it was included in the food safety law, however, "the situation would be largely different," said Li Shichun, a law expert specialising in food safety with the China Law Society.

"The feasibility of the new legal articles should be carefully studied to help with enforcement," he said.

TheMeatSite News Desk

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