the Administrative Sector of the State Administration for Market Regulation中文版
Secretary General Liu Xuecong Accepted an Interview with People's Daily Online on How to Manage Food Safety
   The State Administration for Market Regulation recently announced the result of the 2018 national food safety sampling and inspection. Among 249,000 batches of products sampled throughout the year, the average non-pass rate was 2.4%. This indicates that China's food safety is basically guaranteed, but there still remain some problems. The following are the points of which the public should be aware: the pass rate of meat, eggs, milk, rice, noodles, edible oil, and other bulk food for daily consumption was relatively high; the pass rate of products from large food production and operation enterprises was also relatively high; the pass rate of convenience food and frozen drinks was relatively low; the problems of microbial contamination and excessive residues of agricultural and veterinary drugs are still outstanding. In a recent financial talk show, Liu Xuecong, secretary general of the CNHFA, and Gao Yuncai, a senior reporter of the People’s Daily, and Lin Lili, a reporter of the People’s Daily, discussed how to manage food safety.
  Lin Lili: What are the main problems for food safety in China?
  Liu Xuecong: The overall sampling pass rate in 2018 indicates that our food safety management is safe and stable with good momentum for improvement. There are two main problems. On the one hand, there is a real food safety problem, such as residues of agricultural and veterinary drugs, excessive microbes, and use of out-of-scope food additives or excessive use of food additives. Besides, some manufactures didn’t follow good manufacturing practices during production.
  On the other hand, there are atypical food safety issues (i.e., food fraud and false advertising). Some merchants cheated consumers under asymmetric information. For example, the China's annual consumer day TV show "315" exposed that a manufacturer used “pretty natural-raised” as its brand name to mislead customers for buying its inorganic, commercial eggs. In addition, some news regarding to food safety issues are not even real. Some media used horrible concepts, such as "poisonous strawberries" and "zombie meat", just to attract eyeballs of customers and cause panics.
  Food Safety Risks of Knock-off Products in Rural Areas
  Lin Lili: What are the problems for food safety in rural areas?
  Gao Yuncai: The rural population contributes a lot to food consumption. Nearly half of China's population still lives in rural areas, so everyone is very concerned about food safety there. In general, food safety in rural areas is guaranteed, but there are some problems. First, some of the best-selling goods are often copied into counterfeit products. Second, some rural foods are cheap, but their production is not up to manufacturing standards, which may bring hidden dangers to food safety. Finally, around some public service facilities, such as school, there are a lot of cheap and attractive-looking foods which have food-safety risks.
  Lin Lili: The packaging of some knock-off products resembles genuine ones, which makes it difficult for consumers to distinguish them. Many consumers ended up with spending money of genuine products but buying knock-off products. How to solve this problem?
  Gao Yuncai: First of all, we must strengthen regulation and eliminate knock-off food from the source. We can do this using the Food Safety Law, which is known as the strictest safety law in China. Secondly, there must be certain penalties for those who product fake and shoddy goods, and their freedom must be restricted. Thirdly, we should cooperate with well-behaved manufacturers for sub-category management, so that rural population have more access to high-quality and safe food.
  Knock-off Products Can Become Winners in the Market by Focusing on Originality and Quality
  Lin Lili: I bought during the Chinese New Year festival this year a fake Coca Cola and found it was not bad to drink, indicating that this company has certain production and manufacturing capabilities. I suggest that such companies not to imitate other products, but to build their own brands.
  Gao Yuncai: Your proposal is particularly good. If a company has the ability to produce qualified and safe products, it should build its own brand and improve production and marketing capabilities to occupy the market.
  Don't Let "Half-yuan Foods" Hurt Your Childhood
  Lin Lili: “Half-yuan foods” refer to fried or puffed foods that are cheap and spicy, such as spicy strips. They are sold in stores near schools, and the main buyers are children. Do “half-yuan foods” have adverse effects on children's growth and development?
  Liu Xuecong: These snacks generally contain a lot of salt and sugar, as well as a variety of additives. Some products are produced by regular manufacturers, while others are unqualified products produced by unscrupulous merchants. For example, some cheap products produced in unethical factories and workshops have sanitation problems and contain out-of-scope food additives in an excessive amount. These products are not only harmful to children's nutrition, but also harmful to their health.
  Lin Lili: According to the survey, “half-yuan foods” are especially common in urban-rural fringes and rural areas. How to rectify “half-yuan foods” in third- and fourth-tier cities and rural areas?
  Gao Yuncai: There are three ways. First, we should strengthen regulation. "Half-yuan foods" sold in the urban and rural fringes should be regulated according to law. Second, we should make up for shortcomings. Finally, we should solidate the foundation. Cropland is the source of all “half-yuan foods”. It is necessary to solidify the foundation of food safety from cropland.
  Scientific Use of Fertilizer to Remove Heavy metals From Farmland
  Lin Lili: After talking about snacks, let's talk about meals. There is a saying which goes "people view food as the primary need and food takes earth as the primary source". How to manage food safety from the source?
  Gao Yuncai: The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs conducts tens of thousands of sampling tests every year. The overall pass rate is 97-99%, indicating that the supply of raw materials for agricultural products is guaranteed. There are two latent dangers identified through sampling and their corresponding solutions are also listed. The first danger refers to excessive use of chemical fertilizers and pesticides. As early as February 2015, the Ministry of Agriculture proposed that there should be zero growth in the use of chemical fertilizers and pesticide for major crops by 2020. The quality of fertilizer use should also be improved while the amount of fertilizer use is going to be reduced. Besides, it is recommended to use organic fertilizers. There are 150 county-level demonstration bases across the country that use organic fertilizers instead of chemical fertilizers to grow fruits, vegetables, and tea trees. The latest pesticide regulations issued by the state require that the toxicity of pesticides be minimized, the amount of use should be minimized, and more biological pesticides should be used instead of chemical pesticides. The second danger is about soil. Long-term use of soil can lead to a decrease in soil volumes and fertility and an increase in heavy metal residues. The state has invested a lot of money to eliminate heavy metals from farmland.
  Is the Food Additive an Angel or a Devil?
  Lin Lili: Consumers usually buy a lot of processed foods in addition to fresh ingredients. The sampling results reveals that the problems of using out-of-scope food additives or excessive use of food additives still exist. Is the food additive harmful to processed foods?
  Liu Xuecong: Food additives are not monsters. It is not necessary to talk about this topic with a feeling of extreme nervousness. China has a strict list of categories and scope of use for food additives. Additives are very common in our lives. It can be said that processed foods are basically inseparable from additives, but they must be used at an appropriate dose. The non-pass rate is due to excessive use of food additives or use of unapproved additives, which are relatively harmful to health.
  Lin Lili: This year's 3.15 show also exposed colored natural-raised egg, which is resulted from adding pigments in chicken feed. What are the side effects of consuming such eggs?
  Liu Xuecong: As long as it is consumed according to the prescribed dosage, the addictive will generally not cause harm to the human body. The colored natural-raised eggs reflect more of the problem of false advertising. From a safety point of view, some additives are safe to be used in animal feed, such as carotene. Hens fed with this addictive can lay yellow or red eggs.
  What Details Should a Consumer Pay Attention to When Purchasing Fresh Milk?
  Lin Lili: Food safety is also closely related to food transportation. For fresh aquatic products such as fish and shrimps, fresh fruits and vegetables, and foods that need to be refrigerated and frozen, what should be considered during transportation to ensure they are still safe to consume when delivered to consumers’ tables.
  Liu Xuecong: Cold chain logistics plays a critical role in transporting frozen foods. Lack of cold chain logistics can easily cause excessive microbial growth and failure of meeting hygiene standards. Standard management of cold-chain logistics will a very important task for the government.
  Gao Yuncai: 100% of bioactive components in milk can be kept within two hours after it is milked from cows. Then, bioactive components are attenuated every hour and the attenuation is completed after 24 hours. Many excellent dairy companies now require fresh milk to be sent from farmyards to milk stations for processing within two hours. This is more about nutrition safety rather than food safety.
  Liu Xuecong: There are only two kinds of milk on the market. One is pasteurized milk, and the other is ultra-heat treatment (UHT) milk.
  Health Products≠Health Food, Health Food≠Medicines
  Lin Lili: With the improvement of living standards, more and more people like to consume health food in addition to their daily diet. However, some consumers do not regard health food as food, but as a "medicine." What is health food? Do they have the same function as health products?
  Liu Xuecong: “Health product” is a macro-general name which is not legally valid. Health food has a clear legal status in accordance with the requirements of the Food Safety Law. It claims to have specific health functions and does not cause any acute or subacute harm to the human body. It is very important to note that health food cannot treat diseases and cannot replace drugs. China has a very strict management system for health food. The Food Safety Law has a special registration management system with production license management requirements. There are legal 27 health function claims. Animal or human studies should be conducted to verify if a certain kind of food has certain health function claims before registered and approved as health food. The more prominent problem in the health food market today is false advertising. The results of the special rectification of the health food fraud and false advertising carried out by the nine Ministries and commissions show that nearly 95%-96% of the illegal cases is related to false advertising of health food.