Laws and Regulations
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On April 12, the General Administration of Customs issued the revised Measures for the Safety Administration of Imported and Exported Food, which integrates six previous regulations covering the safety of food imports and exports and will take effect on January 1, 2022. The Measures grant the General Administration of Customs (GAC) supervision and administrative authority over the import and export of food producers and traders as well as the food safety of imports and exports. With regards to food imports, the GAC will carry out conformity assessment on imported food according to the relevant laws and regulations on import and export commodity inspection. The GAC may, based on the risk assessment results, implement controlling measures such as increasing the supervision measures and sampling inspection on the relevant imported foods, and unqualified products will be destroyed or returned. With regards to food exports, the Measures require food export enterprises to establish a series of proactive systems such as supplier evaluation systems, purchase and production record systems, factory inspection record systems, exportation traceability systems, and nonconforming food disposal systems.
On April 7, Premier Li Keqiang signed the revised Administrative Regulation on Grain Circulation. The policy will take effect from April 15, 2021. The Regulation makes clear provisions on strengthening supervision over grain quality and safety across procurement, storage and delivery. The regulation calls for refining the grain circulation quality and safety risk monitoring system and establishing a quality and safety inspection system for grain sale and export. The regulation also stipulates that grain purchasers must conduct quality and safety inspections in accordance with the relevant provisions of the State when purchasing grain. Meanwhile, grain quality inspection must be carried out regularly during storage. Grain that exceeds the threshold of pollutants such as perimycin, pesticide residues, heavy metals, or is mildewy, or has an abnormal color and smell must not be sold out for edible purposes.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs, the National Health Commission, and the State Administration for Market Regulation jointly issued the newest version of the National Standard on Maximum Residue Limits in Food Safety. The standard defined the maximum residue limits for 564 types of pesticides in 375 categories of food in the current 10,092 residue limit restrictions. This newest standard made changes to the variety and quantity of pesticides, imposed stricter limits, alignment with international standards, and made improvements to testing methods. The new standard will be implemented on September 3, 2021, which holds significance as it fulfills the Work Plan of Accelerating the Development of China's Pesticide Residual Standard System issued by the State Council, which aimed to establish 10,000 pesticide residue standards.
On April 2, Shanghai Municipal Administration for Market Regulation organized over 1,300 local food production companies to sign a letter of commitment and make public commitments to strictly fulfill corporate duties concerning food safety. Through a series of measures featuring “One List, Two Regulations, and Three Systems”, Shanghai has clarified the content and basis of corporate duties and legal liabilities incurred from failing to perform such duties. Specifically, the "List of Main Responsibilities in Food Safety for Food (including Food Additives and Salt) Production Companies in Shanghai" sets a clear bottom line for food production enterprises, clarifying licensing qualification management, prohibited production behavior, staff management, production process control and other responsibilities. The two regulations – "Regulation to Improve Supplier Inspection and Evaluation System For Food Production Companies" and the "Regulation to Improve the Self-Inspection System of Food Production Companies" – aim to improve the Shanghai food production inspection and evaluation mechanisms. The three systems, representing the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point (HACCP) system for Shanghai’s small and micro food production enterprises, the intelligent traceability system for the food production process, and the multi-level supervision system are designed to strengthen hazard analysis and control throughout the food production process. The plan also calls for building an information-tracing data chain that suffices for forward tracking, reverse tracing, and risk control at all stages, as well as visualizes a normalized supervision mechanism featuring "daily supervision + pilot inspection + third-party system evaluation”.
Following the exposure of the clenbuterol scandal - first reported on CCTV’s 315 Gala, on March 19, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA) issued the Notice on launching the clenbuterol special rectification campaign which deploys a three-month investigative operation with a nationwide coverage. This campaign is focused on tackling the illegal use of clenbuterol – a chemosynthesis employed in livestock for muscle growth, but harmful to human health. Local agricultural departments will take random samples from the breeding, purchasing, transportation, and slaughtering links of the livestock supply chain to carry out clenbuterol content screening. For products found to have issues in testing, market supervision departments and public security departments will provide follow-up investigations and prosecutions.
The National Health Commission (NHC) and the State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) jointly released fifty new national food safety standards and four revisions to existing ones. These standards cover a range of products including infant formula, sodium carbonate, sanitary standards for the disinfection of catering utensils, and limits for certain contaminants. Among these, NHC stated that the infant formula foods issue is a top priority of the government. The new standards provide further instructions to fully ensure the nutritional effectiveness of infant formula foods, such as requirements for the nutrient content of the product, limitations on bacterial content, and changing previously ‘optional ingredients’ in the earlier standards to ‘required ingredients’.
On February 21, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China (CPC) and the State Council issued the No. 1 central document in 2021: Opinions on Comprehensively Promoting the Revitalization of The Countryside and Accelerating the Modernization of Agriculture and Rural Areas. It pointed out a key goal for 2021 work is to further improve the quality of agricultural products and food safety, and by 2025 to significantly improve the quality of agricultural efficiency and competitiveness. The Opinions stressed that the key tasks in the "14th Five-Year" period include: strengthening the supervision of agricultural produce quality and food safety, developing green agricultural products, organic agricultural products and geographically indicated agricultural products, piloting an edible agricultural products qualification certificate system, and promoting the establishment of national agricultural produce quality and safety counties. The Opinions also outlined the need to accelerate the establishment of agricultural produce storage and preservation cold chain logistics facilities, promote the construction of small cold chain facilities in rural areas, establish direct distribution centers for low-temperature agricultural products, as well as build national leading cold chain logistics bases.
On January 27, the National Health Commission (NHC) issued a notice to solicit proposals for national food safety standards setting in 2021. The notice stated that priority should be given to formulating and revising urgently needed food safety standards for risk prevention and control, with a focus on issues identified through food safety risk assessment.
The NHC will continue to promote the re-evaluation and revision of general standards such as the limit of contaminants and pathogenic bacteria in food, the use of food additives, and labeling. The NHC will also standardize inspection methods, strengthen coordination between standard setting and food safety risk monitoring and assessment. The deadline for submission is February 19, 2021.
On January 20, the State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) issued the “Guidance of Action on the Implementation to Enhance the Quality and Safety of Meat Products”. The Guidance covers all aspects of the meat product supply chain, from raw material, production, inspection and testing, storage and transportation, traceability to government supervision, as well as addressing industry enhancement measures.
The Guidance noted the following priorities: ensuring that the storage of refrigerated and frozen raw materials and meat product transport conditions are in line with food safety requirements; strengthening the construction of the traceability system supported by information technology; urging breeding plants to strictly implement regulations of the use of veterinary drugs, feed and feed additives; guiding enterprises to increase investment in R&D, and actively develop new products with research institutes, colleges and universities, food research and development institutions, and encouraging large enterprises to set up R&D centers and other specialized product development institutions.
On January 20, the Ministry of Transport issued "Highway and Waterway Imports of High-Risk Non-Cold-Chain Container Cargo Preventive Disinfection Guidelines" to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus through imported non-cold-chain container transport channels. The Guide promotes measures such as disinfecting imported non-cold chain container cargo, providing personal protection for front-line staff and other means of protecting employees, outlining emergency response requirements, and more.
On January 6, the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs issued a "Notice on Strengthening the Regulation of Aquacultural Inputs”. The content of the notice covers the following key points: local agricultural and rural authorities at all levels must accurately grasp the meaning and management scope of aquaculture with veterinary drugs, feed and feed additives according to the law to fulfill their regulatory responsibilities. Authorities should strengthen the management of aquaculture with veterinary drugs, feed and feed additives and other inputs; rectify illegal behavior; trial the implementation of a whitelist system for aquaculture inputs, in addition to the legal use of aquaculture with veterinary drugs, feed and feed additives and other white-listed inputs. Authorities should not illegally use other inputs, or they will face investigation and may be punished or warned in accordance with the law.
- Provisions of the Supreme People's Court on Certain Issues Concerning the Application of Laws in Hearing Cases Involving Disputes over Foods/Drugs (issued on January 6, 2021) [Chinese Version]
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