Thousands of dead pigs and ducks illustrated over the past weeks again China is having a huge food security problem. Lawyer Mark Schaub of the Chinese-Australian law firm King&Wood and Mallesons gives in China Law Insight an overview of how the country’s central government is trying to close the loopholes in the current messy approach of food security.
The existence of multiple responsible oversight authorities remains the one of the greatest obstacles to improved implementation. It appears that this has been widely recognized among the representatives of the NPC and CPPCC and it is expected that institutional reform will be forthcoming. Bringing food safety within the remit of a single government authority would avoid duplication of work, reduce the risk of contradictory or inconsistent application and enforcement and reduce the likelihood of a failure to perform vital tasks. As part of the recent reform of PRC central government organizations officially announced in early March, the newly established State Food and Drug General Administration (a combination of the former State Food and Drug Administration and other central agencies) is expected to act as the sole authority responsible for supervision of the new food safety regime, though the details of these changes are yet to be publicized…
Continued consumer concerns and feedback from recent NPC and CPPCC sessions make it clear that measures will be taken to strengthen food safety in China. For Australian food companies stricter testing and improved supervision is likely to result in a more level playing field in China for their product. Compliance will likely increase the cost of production for Chinese producers and also lead to pressure to open the Chinese market to high quality imported products. Although Australian producers are likely to be a beneficiary of China’s improved food safety regime, the ultimate (and rightful) beneficiaries of improved food quality and safety will be the “lao bai xing” constituting the rank and file of Chinese consumers.
Earlier March 2013 the China Weekly Hangout discussed food security in China, with sustainability expert Richard Brubaker, Andrew Hupert and Chris Brown. How the ongoing problems will lead to massive food inflation. In the end we (both in China and outside) will have to pay the price for safe food. Note the differences between Mark Schaub legal view and those of Richard Brubaker.