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Is China Ready for Prime Time?

September 1, 2007
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China’s food safety is improving, but is still imperfect, says Lu Huisheng, deputy director of the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA). He said that China has been experiencing a “high-risk period” when other countries’ efforts had already been intensified in combating foodborne illness outbreaks. Since 2006, the Chinese government has invested $12.43 million in food safety risk research.

But whether or not it can get its food safety act together for international trade in the foreseeable future, China is aware it will be on the world stage next year as it hosts the 2008 Summer Olympics. Beijing Olympics organizers have unveiled high-tech plans to maintain food safety as they serve meals to the equivalent of a small city, according to the China Daily.

“Our country and the Beijing municipal government are taking the food safety issue very seriously, especially for the Olympics,” said Wang Wei, executive vice president of the organizing committee. Food delivered to athletes will be closely monitored throughout production, processing and transport. State-of-the-art technologies such as global positioning satellites will be used to help track food during production and distribution phases.

Other measures include staying vigilant on food safety and enhancing data collection, improving the market entry system for food suppliers and strengthening food safety monitoring and supervisory systems. All food entering the Olympic Village will carry a logistics code to enable tracking. The Chinese General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine also introduced similar measures to ensure food products for both athletes and the general public will be safe to consume.

Meanwhile, China and the US will work together to strengthen food and drug safety. According to Yan Jiangying, SFDA spokeswoman, “The two sides will increase technical exchanges through seminars and training programs, and boost exchange activities between their working staffs.”

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