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China welcomes int'l help to improve food safety alert system
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21:21, November 06, 2007

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China's food safety watchdog on Tuesday called for stronger international cooperation to improve the food safety alert system.

China was willing to share experiences and learn better food surveillance practices from abroad to warn of food safety problems and ensure a rapid response, said Li Chaowei, deputy director of import and export food safety bureau of the Administration of Quality, Standards, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ).

Li said China took food safety seriously and had embarked upon a nationwide crackdown.

"In China, several government departments are responsible for food safety, and these departments will have their individual networks for information exchange and communication," Li told a news conference. He said China needed a more integrated information exchange network on the national level.

The European Commission is running a training workshop on the European Union's Rapid Alert System for Food and Feed (RASFF) from Tuesday to Thursday in Beijing.

About 80 Chinese participants, including government officials and industry representatives attended the workshop.

China has more than 400,000 companies engaged in food production and processing, of which more than 10,000 have licenses to export food.

Li said 99 percent of food exported by these firms met safety standards, but he pressed them to make efforts to bring the overall managerial standards of food production and processing nationwide to a higher level.

Raimondo Serra, agricultural counselor at the European Commission delegation in Beijing, said one of weaknesses of China's surveillance network that could create problems was the number of agencies responsible for food safety in China at different stages of the chain.

Serra said China needed a more rounded approach to food safety.

"The European approach is from the farm to the fork," he added. "Sometimes in China there is much more emphasis on the final product instead of the raw material."

The EU in 2007 sent officials to Bangkok, Buenos Aires and now Beijing to promote the idea of having RASFF, said Jose Luis de Felipe, head of RASFF unit.

"The idea behind these seminars is first of all to share our experience with other countries in order to implement in their countries a similar system, if they wish," said de Felipe.

Source: Xinhua

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