China to set up "preemptive" food safety network: official
A senior health official said in Beijing today that China will set up a
"preemptive" monitoring system to improve food safety in China.
"It means we
will try to rid food problems by early detection, early warning and early
intervention," said Su Zhi, deputy general director of health inspection and
supervision bureau under the Ministry of Health.
Illegal chemicals added into
food have led to several major food scares in China. Despite frequent government
crackdowns, illegal non-food substances remained a threat.
In the latest
scandal, milk powder and other dairy products containing the industry chemical
melamine sickened more than 294,000 infants and likely killed six.
the "preemptive" monitoring system" will include a monitoring network on food
manufacturing and distribution with focus on food additives and non-food
"Enterprises must list what they've added into the food products.
Except for food additives, it is illegal to add any other non-food substances no
matter whether they are harmful or not," he told Xinhua.
The system will also
include a monitoring network on food-borne diseases, blacklists of illegal food
additives, building of a competent technician team and a transparent reporting
system, he said.
Su said the "preemptive" approach, proposed by China's
Health Minister Chen Zhu, was based on lessons from the tainted dairy
"We used to rely on crackdowns (to solve food problems)," he said.
"But now we are combining punishment with prevention with more stress on the
On Dec. 15, the Ministry of Health published a blacklist of 17
non-food substances that could not be added to food production, including
melamine and cancer-causing industrial dye sudan red used to color egg
Su said the Ministry will continue to blacklist illegal additives.
"The purpose is to encourage public supervision," he said.
China has approved
a total of 1,812 types of food additives, including 290 food additives, 1,528
spices, 149 food processing auxiliary materials and 55 chewing gum bases,
according to a food additive standard effective on June this year.