Nov 11, 2012

China - Quality tests key to food safety

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China's top quality-control official on Saturday pledged to make sure the whole society was aware of food-quality improvement, while warning that the country's quality supervision remains vulnerable.

Zhi Shuping, minister of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, the country's top quality watchdog, told China Daily along the sideline of the twice-a-decade Party congress that despite achievements made in China's quality control, there are challenges that can never be neglected.

Zhi's remarks reflected the Party's political blueprint, which urged that China should quicken the creation of a new growth model and "ensure that development is based on improved quality and performance".
The political report, delivered on Thursday at the congress' opening ceremony, is supposed to guide the country's development in the next few years.

China, with its economy soaring to be the world's second-largest and its productivity greatly lifted during the past three decades of economic boom, has withstood various scandals over substandard products that endangered the public's health and safety.

The Party, while calling to end the shoddy development model, makes it clear that quality should be the focus of the new growth pattern, Zhi said.

Zhi said that quality of products, projects and services actually embodies the country's strength, image and the core competitiveness of its enterprises.

China has managed to improve its overall product quality from 75 percent 10 years ago to 90 percent in recent years, according to figures from the quality watchdog's annual review.

But the minister warned that some products are not reliable enough to meet international standards; manufacturers of fake products keep updating their techniques and make supervision more difficult; and the overall quality-control mechanism is still weak.
With made-in-China products flooding markets both at home and abroad, several product scandals, ranging from baby food to elevators, have hit the country in recent years.

In one instance, melamine was added to milk products to increase the protein content. The scandal shook most of the country's baby-formula brands and affected an estimated 300,000 infants, left six dead and sent hundreds to the hospital, according to official statistics.

With Chinese people getting richer, they are paying more attention to product quality than ever before, said Zhi.

In the latest measure to improve quality, the State Council implemented a national-level quality-control blueprint in February, which stressed the importance of building a strong country with strong product quality by 2020.

The document warned that serious economic losses due to substandard products, environmental pollution and food-safety scandals are still prevalent. It said the issue of product quality is vital to the country's sustainable development, the public welfare and the nation's image.

Quality concerns sectors including efficiency, safety, and environmental protection, and Zhi said only by improving the quality of products, projects and services can those broader areas be improved.

Zhi urged the whole society to make more efforts at improving quality.

If the whole country can change its development model and focus on quality improvement, China will develop in a better way, he said.

Wu Jiao

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