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Mar. 7 China: Three agencies to be responsible for food safety, down from 13

This article is brought to you by the South China Morning Post.

More details have emerged about the new central government agency to be responsible for the regulation of food and drug safety as part of restructuring to be approved during the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress.

The reorganisation plan will see departments in charge of food safety from various government agencies integrated with the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) to create a single safety agency avoid overlaps and blind spots, a source familiar with the plan said.

The executive office of the State Council’s Food Safety Commission, the State Administration for Industry and Commerce’s food market regulation department and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine’s food production regulation department would be detached from their original agencies and integrated into the new SFDA.

The government restructuring will give three agencies control of food safety regulation. The new SFDA will be in charge of regulating food production, with the Ministry of Agriculture overseeing primary production and the Ministry of Health in charge of establishing food safety standards and risk evaluation.

Thirteen government agencies are currently involved in four aspects of food safety, with the health authorities in charge of co-ordination, the quality inspection authorities in charge of production, the industry and commerce authorities in charge of food distribution and the SFDA in charge of restaurant food. Food safety experts have complained that the system has created many loopholes for agencies to shun their responsibilities, as in the melamine-tainted-milk scandal in 2008 in which at least six children died and 300,000 fell ill with kidney problems.

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