China, Taiwan strengthen food safety laws
China and Taiwan have enhanced the powers of their Food and Drug Administrations to be more effective in ensuring food safety and guarding against food fraud, according to a July 13 panel discussion at IFT15: Where Science Feeds Innovation hosted by the Institute of Food Technologists (IFT) in Chicago.
"Food fraud is an important food safety issue internationally but is more common in China," said Chen Zheng of the international division of the Chinese Institute of Food Science and Technology. "The Chinese government has decided to take strong strategies and measures to fight against food fraud."
He outlined some historical instances of food fraud in China from adulterated liquor made by industrial methanol to starch-based infant formulas to fox meat being identified as mutton. Some of China's recent strategies to guard against these frauds were identified in a presentation created by Dr. Junshi Chen of the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment which included the 2015 Black List by China's Ministry of Health. The list identifies 24 categories of non-authentic substances from dyes to boric acid to opium prohibited as ingredients in food products. "Food fraud is intentional," Zheng added, "and has very clear economic motivation."
China is not alone in dealing with food fraud. Taiwan has recently reorganized its Food and Drug Administration to enhance quality controls for inspection and safety of imported food products, particularly since the country's self-sufficiency has dropped to 33 percent, according to Jenny Yueh-Ing Chang, executive director of the International Life Sciences Institute in Taiwan. She said Taiwan is reliant on imports for fresh frozen and preserved vegetables and fruits, seasonings, instant noodles as well as tea, since in the last six months pesticide residue has been found on tea leaves in Taiwan.
More than 20,000 food businesses and food factories are operating in Taiwan, she said. Registration by these businesses will be mandatory by Dec. 10, 2015, and constituents of food additives will also have to register with the government.
New regulations under the Food Safety Act will govern food, safety and sanitation and require good hygiene practices, accredited certification programs particularly for the cooking oil industry which has faced fraud in recent years. In addition, food safety control systems will be implemented for fishery and meat products, dairy products and boxed meals.
Taiwan is also requiring that genetically modified food raw materials be identified on food labeling as well as Trans fats, sugars and allergens. Food labels in Taiwan also must include specific language on ingredients.
Jinjing Zhang of the China Food and Drug Administration added that the newly amended food safety laws in China focus on health food regulation, create a new set of requirements and registration for advertisement and labeling of health foods, as well as vitamins and nutritional supplements, which can no longer claim they are a "medicine" that improve various ailments.