Latest China Food Safety Law Updates –Traceability is the Golden Key English content only

Submitted by webadmin on 29 Feb 2016 - 17:09


Eating with RISKS

In recent years there has been growing public concern about food safety resulting in intense scrutiny by authorities. There have been widespread incidents of poor food processing control causing severe illness or incapacitation and quite naturally consumers worry about the origin and handling of the food they eat.


APAC Food regulatory standards

Whilst some countries still lack good housekeeping as far as food manufacturing is concerned, the APAC region demonstrates more comprehensive food regulatory standards. For example, Australia and New Zealand share a common agency - Food Standards Australia New Zealand which has developed the Australia New Zealand Food Standards Code. This code regulates the use of ingredients, processing aids, colourings, additives, vitamins and minerals. It also covers the composition of some foods e.g. dairy, meat and beverages as well as standards developed by new technologies for genetically modified foods. Labelling of packaged and unpackaged food, mandatory warnings and advisory also comes under their control.1


China gaining ground in food safety

In China, with fragmented regulatory regime and following several high-profile food safety scandals in past decades, the government passed sweeping amendments to its Food Safety Laws and implemented these on 1 October 2015. Stiffer and harsher penalties will be imposed on those who endanger public health. The China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) has been committed to remake China’s food safety regulatory regime under its supervision. Over the years responsibility for food safety has been in several hands resulting in lack of cohesion. But now the CFDA has issued its own new regulations for food recall and reviewing and issuing food manufacturing licences. The latter are required by almost all processors of food and under separate regulations distribution licences are needed by all distributors, retailers and food service establishments. It appears that a food safety system is forming in China with the government aggressively pursuing consolidation of the industry. According to Article 42, food producers and distributors are required to “establish the traceability system to ensure food traceability2 and to collect and preserve production and distribution information, recommended in terms of information technology.3


Relevance to Hong Kong food companies?

These moves are even more pertinent as a recent comparison made by the Global Food Traceability Center on traceability regulations and requirements in OECD countries showed China as poor whereas the European Union was superior. To reinforce the importance of food safety and traceability across the food supply chain, is of particular concern to Hong Kong as it acts as an entrepot where over 90% of food products are imported. Authorities here are vigilant to ensure that there no gaps in local regulations and industry practices. Hong Kong industry players must take responsibility to implement systems which give higher visibility and transparency to the food products they handle. Food traders, in particular, are required to “maintain proper records of the movements of food to enhance food traceability”.4


Traceability is the golden key

Food value chain always involves many steps from production to consumers’ hands. An effective food traceability system relies on “being able to track products one step forward and one step back at any point in the supply chain” in identifying and documenting product information and operations of all food businesses including manufacturers, producers, suppliers,  distributors, retailers and customers.  Traceability enables corrective actions such as product recall to be implemented quickly and effectively.5 6


GS1 Traceability Standards show the way

To strengthen the integrity of the industry and consumer and make industry better aware of the regulatory requirements, a half day industry seminar was held on 26 January 2016 with the theme “Latest China Safety of Safety Law Updates – Challenges or Opportunities?” More than 50 food industry leaders gathered together and exchanged ideas to address the challenges of the China market in particular. Experts from the China Law Society and Hong Kong Quality Assurance Agency were on hand to discuss the regulation amendments and the importance of safety and traceability from farm to table. They also shared their views on implementation of global traceability standards and strategies in the food supply chain and how food safety management systems help to achieve traceability. GS1 Hong Kong showed how Global Traceability Standards (GTS) helps improve product traceability from suppliers to end consumers for safer food and better consumer confidence.7

The seminar was extremely informative emphasising how to grasp new business opportunities by understanding the new regulations and adopting product traceability.


Tell us your challenge and we are going to help you sort out customer trust with food safety and traceability:  or contact us at


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1 Ministry for Primary Industries (2016). New Zealand Government. Retrieved 24 February, 2016

2 David, J., Jenny, L. and Yun, C. (2016). Asia Pacific Food Industry. Retrieved 24 February, 2016

3 FAS Staff. (2016). USDA. Retrieved 24 February, 2016

4 Centre for Food Safety. (2016). CFSgovhk. Retrieved 24 February, 2016

5 Micheal, M. (2016). Williamfry. Retrieved 24 February, 2016

6 Foodstandardsgovau. (2016). Foodstandardsgovau. Retrieved 24 February, 2016

7 GS1HK. (2016). Retrieved 24 February, 2016

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