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China: Measures on Release of Food Safety Information

(Dec. 20, 2010) On November 3, 2010, China's Ministries of Health, Agriculture, and Commerce, together with other government agencies, jointly issued the Measures for Administration of Release of Food Safety Information. Food safety information includes data compiled or acquired by government departments in pursuance of their responsibilities on “production, circulation, catering, consumption, import, export, etc., of food.” (Wang Nan, Six Ministries Promulgated Measures to Regulate Release of Food Safety Information, 44 ISINOLAW WEEKLY (Dec. 6-12, 2010), via email from [email protected].)

Important information on food safety of a general nature applicable to the whole country is to be released by the Department of Health Administration under the State Council. That Department is also responsible for assessing food safety risks and handling major food safety accidents. Provincial departments of health administration have similar responsibilities within their borders. The Measures also require certain local offices to set up systems to release to the public information on food safety. These agencies include county-level and higher departments of health administration, agriculture administration, quality supervision, industrial and commercial administration, food and drug supervision, and entry-exit inspection and quarantine. (Id.)

The Measures stress the need for responsible agencies to release appropriate information promptly in the case of a food safety emergency. The agencies are not to delay informing the public or to conceal or falsify information. (Id.)

The new Measures came into force as soon as they were promulgated and replaced the 2004, interim measures on the subject. (Id.; Shi pin an quan xin xi gong bu guan li ban fa [Measures for Administration of Release of Food Safety Information], Ministry of Health of the People's Republic of China website (Nov. 3, 2010),
[scroll down the page to locate the Measures].)