Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Beijing's New Food Safety System

A January 5 article in China Commerce News describes the city of Beijing's new three-prong food safety control system consisting of government monitoring, company self-checks, and third-party testing. City commerce bureau vice chair Wang Jianhua said 30 million yuan in special funds were allocated by the city government in 2009 for food safety testing equipment placed in 114 markets, supermarket and malls.

The reporter notes that many shoppers entering the Maliandao Carrefour Supermarket noticed a “Food Safety Self-Testing Lab” sign on the cash registers as they came in the door. Computers and testing equipment fill a 7-8 square meter room. The head of the city commerce bureau food safety monitoring center told the reporter that this quick-testing ewquipment can check for 43 kinds of toxic substances, such as pesticide residues on vegetables, sulfoxylate, and formaldehyde. Ten large markets and supermarkets with testing centers include Carrefour, Xinfadi wholesale market, and Wal-Mart. Each market got 1.5 million yuan in funds from the city government to purchase food safety testing equipment.

The reporter went to Guanjinglong market in Fengtai district to investigate. A worker from the commerce bureau was in the self-testing lab offering training. Daily tests on samples of vegetables and fresh meats are conducted here. Related information is posted on a web site. The commerce department can look up test results to monitor the food safety situation. In 2010, quick-testing equipment will be placed in 100 additional markets where conditions are suitable. All information will be posted on the Internet in the future.

The reporter visited the Fengtai district branch of the commerce bureau’s food safety monitoring center and found it contained the most modern laboratory equipment. The vice-chairman of the commerce bureau said the city has food safety branch centers in 6 districts and 13 laboratories for food testing. In addition, 20 testing organizations meeting national regulatory standards have become third-party testing centers. The city’s commerce bureau, quality and technical supervision bureau, health department, inspection and quarantine bureau, and agriculture department jointly form Beijing’s food safety supervision and control system.

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