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Measures for Food Safety Strategy

2016-03-11

Han Jun, Luo Dan & Xie Yang

Monitoring of food safety involves the full process from the "agricultural fields to the dining tables", including the intermediate links such as production, processing, storage and marketing. Effective guarantee for food safety also needs effective cooperation and coordination of all parties on the food production chain, such as the government, farmers, agricultural food processing enterprises, consumers, intermediary agencies and relevant research institutions. Guaranteeing food safety is an inherent responsibility of the government, but not a responsibility of one government department alone. Although strong government control is necessary for the food safety system, government intervention alone is not enough. To guarantee the effective implementation of the responsibilities in all the above key issues, all parties engaged in the food production chain, including government, industries, research institutions, education institutions, mass media and consumers, must adopt effective measures on all points of the food production chain.

I. Increasing Input, Improving Input Structure and Perfecting the Investment Management System

All developed counties attach great importance to capital input in food safety. Take the United States for example. The capital input in food safety by the federal government alone exceeded US$1 billion per annum during the 1990s, excluding inputs by industries, various private foundations and state governments. In addition, such input in recent years tends to grow on annual basis.

At present, China’s capital input in food safety suffers two prominent problems. One is the insufficiency of overall input. Few Central Government capital inputs in various ministries and commissions have special budget on food safety. In relevant supervision and management departments, such as the Ministry of Agriculture, the Ministry of Health and the State Administration for Quality Supervision, food safety is only a small part of their responsibilities, and is not their priority task in terms of budget ratio, staff proportion or priority of management. Therefore, food safety is intentionally or unintentionally neglected or disregarded. Although various departments have increased their input in this area over the past two years, the total amount of input is still far from enough to meet the actual needs. The second problem is the dispersion of input of various departments, which resulted in serious wastes. Food safety in China involves many departments. With a faulty management system, various departments act on their own, without efficient utilization of their capital input. The departments that really need capital and should be strengthened are in fact neglected, and failed to gain due capital support.

In light of the existing problems mentioned above, China should improve the management system, determine the budget of relevant departments, and readjust the orientation of input to raise investment efficiency in future. It should increase the special budget on food safety, so as to strengthen food supervision, monitoring, research and public education. Past experience indicates that fiscal expenditure is necessary in time of various public crises. Therefore, China must reform its public finance framework. It should incorporate the fiscal emergency response system into the management framework of fiscal strategies, and link it to the day-to-day management of public finance, so that once a pubic crisis takes place, the fiscal emergency response mechanism can be triggered into operation. China should formulate an emergency budget, which should be determined on an annual basis and not to be implemented unless in time of any public crisis. The fiscal emergency response mechanism should be governed by the rule of law. The State should vigorously encourage other relevant agencies to make their input in food safety, support food safety with fiscal and financial means, adopt relevant preferential policies, and tilt toward agricultural development and agricultural loans. Meanwhile, it should also strengthen communication among relevant departments on food safety, formulate unified and coordinated plans, and improve the actual efficiency of funds.

II. Gradually Adopting the Market Access System

The market access system for food is an institutional regime to strengthen management over market entry of food based on past management practice over market access of market itself. The guiding concept is to "insist on standard, restrict access, open the market and enforce exit". The basic idea is to implement effective full-process control over food (and its sellers) under the open market environment by adopting access by standard and access by agreement in the market access stage, conducting dynamic monitoring in the market trading stage, and enforcing market exit for sub-quality food (or for illegal traders). The implementation of the framework of the market access system for food can guarantee control over food safety and safeguard consumer safety. At present, with the objective of strengthening supervision and management over market access, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of China has implemented the market access system, and the Ministry of Health has adopted the quantitative classification system. In general, China does not have a complete framework of market access system. It should strengthen communication and coordination between departments responsible for food and those responsible for pharmaceutical management, health, agriculture, quality inspection, commerce, transportation and public safety. It should establish a market access system that includes stages from agricultural input to food sales and food supply according to the basic requirements of the framework of the market access system, and adopt effective measures in the areas of market access, market transaction and market exit. According to the management needs of various stages, it should adopt the system of access by standard, the food record system, the system of access by agreement, the coupon access system, the food inspection system, the full-process prosecution system, the credit supervision and management system, the joint law-enforcement system, the compulsive exit system, the system of exit by agreement, the system of recall with limited terms, and the system of detoxification treatment.

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