A detailed reform plan to streamline China’s food safety supervision system is expected to be unveiled on Sunday, two senior food safety officials said on Tuesday. Though neither of them would disclose details of the institutional reform plan, Wei Chuanzhong, deputy director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, and Jiao Hong, deputy director of the State Food and Drug Administration, both told China Daily that the detailed measures would be submitted to the ongoing national legislative session for deliberation on Sunday.

China’s food safety issues are overseen by a number of government agencies, including the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce, the AQSIQ and the SFDA. The system has caused some overlapping of responsibilities or buck-passing among government agencies, spurring calls for change from scholars and the public.

While making an annual central government report to the top legislature on Tuesday, Premier Wen Jiabao vowed to “reform and improve” the food safety supervision mechanism in the near future. Jiao said there are indeed some problems with the existing supervision system, and that the country should establish a mechanism that suits its current situation. “Food producers should shoulder more responsibilities and face heavier punishments in case of law violations,” said Jiao, who was invited to attend the legislative session on Tuesday.

Commenting on recent surveys showing that the majority of Chinese consumers lack confidence in domestic food products, Jiao said that such confidence “could be, and must be” restored, but it might take some time. She added that more media supervision of illegal food producers is necessary, but that instead of hype, reporters should try to offer the public more accurate and scientific information about food safety.

Source: People’s Daily Online Mar 2013

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