On January 30, 2012, the Ministry of Health released the 12th Five-year Plan on National Food Safety Standards, and solicits public comments on the Plan.
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GAIN Report Number: 12041
China - Peoples Republic of
12th Five Year Plan for National Food Safety Standard-final
Melinda Meador and Ma Jie
On January 30, 2012, the Ministry of Health released the 12th Five-year Plan on National Food Safety
Standards, and solicits public comments on the Plan.
On June 11, 2012, seven ministries/administrations jointly released the finalized 12th Five-year Plan. In
comparison with the Draft, the final Plan is more specific in terms of incorporating international
standards and experiences in administering the standards, basic standards to be formulated and
revised, priorities for food product safety standard work (meat, liquor, food oil, condiment, baby food,
dairy, health food), and addresses some new issues, such as formulation of food product safety
standards for products that already have international standards, or products that are imported but
do not have relevant standards. The Final Plan calls for food safety standard formulation to be
transparent and open to public opinions.
This report provides an INFORMAL translation of this document.
“The Twelfth Five-Year” Plan on National Food Safety Standards
The plan is formulated in accordance with the Food Safety Law, its implementing regulations and
plans related to national food safety supervision for the purposes of carrying out national food safety
standard work and improving the standard system.
I. Status Quo of Food Safety Standards
(I) Achievements. As mandatory national standards, national food safety standards are important
measures in protecting public health and food safety. They are the foundation of scientific
administration of food safety and supervision over various (food safety) links, as well as technical tools
in regulating food production, sale, and promoting sound development of the industry. Governments
of all levels and in all regions attach great significance to food safety standard formulation and
revision. In recent years, China has made remarkable achievements in this regard. Before the
promulgation of the Food Safety Law, there were over 2,000 national standards, over 2,900 industrial
standards and over 1,200 local standards on food, food additive and food-related products. A food
safety standard system has been established with national standards at the core, supplemented by
industrial standards, local standards and enterprise standards.
After promulgation of the Food Safety Law, China made more efforts on food safety standard
work, and has made new progresses of:
1. Improvement of the food safety national standards system. Relevant government agencies
have published administrative measures on national food safety standards and local standards,
and measures on putting on record of enterprise standards; they have clarified requirements
on standards formulation, revision and administration. Ministry of Health established the Food
Safety National Standards Evaluation Committee, a progress in the food safety national
standard evaluation system.
2. Accelerated the review and integration of food standards. With emphasis, MOH streamlined
and integrated food standards on grains, vegetable oil, meat products, milk and dairy products,
alcoholic liquors, spices and beverages. MOH cancelled or modified some standards and
indices, and has preliminarily handled problems of overlapping, repetitive and conflicting food
3. Promulgation of new national food safety standards. After promulgation of the Food Safety
Law, MOH has released 269 national food safety standards covering milk, food additive use,
compound food additive, fungi and toxin limit, prepackaged food label and nutriment label,
pesticide residue limits and some food additives. MOH also revised the standards on food
packing materials, which are more scientific and practical.
4. Promote smooth implementation of national food safety standards. (Relevant agencies)
Actively engage in publicity and training on national food safety standards, track evaluation of
implemented standards, and guide the food industry to strictly follow the implemented new
5. China is actively involved in formulation of the international food codex. China is the host
country of Codex Committee on Food Additives and Codex Committee on Pesticide Residues; it
is elected Asian Executive Member of Codex Committee on Food; it hosted the international
conferences on food additive codex and pesticide residue codex. Through all these, we learned
the experiences (of developed countries) in formulation and management of food standards.
(II) Problem and restraints. Restrained by food industry development and risk assessment, food
safety standards could not match development of the food industry, and standard formulated is
restrained by risk assessment capacity. As a result, some problems emerge, mainly as follows:
1. The standard system needs to be further improved. Before issuance of the Food Safety Law,
different ministries, pursuant to their portfolio, formulated national and industrial standards on
agricultural product quality safety, food hygiene and food quality. Numerous standards co-
exist, some overlap in content, some issues remain unaddressed, and some standards were
inconsistent with others.
2. Failure of food safety supervision caused by lack of some key standards or important indices.
For instance, China lacks standards on some detection methods and food packing materials.
3. Scientific basis and reasonableness of the standard needs to be further improved. Many food
safety standards were issued a long time ago, which lack generality; some standard indices lack
risk assessment. As a result, they could not match of food safety supervision requirements and
4. Publicity, training and implementation of standards need to be strengthened. Food safety
standards are voluminous in indices, technical in content, highly compulsory in execution, and
they attract close social attention. Therefore, it requires further improvement in standards
administration and working procedures. China will improve methods of soliciting and collecting
opinions, and better publicize and interpret standards.
Restraints of national food safety standards are as follows:
1. Basic research lags behind; risk assessment is still in early stage; insufficient data storage of
food safety exposure evaluation and backward monitoring and evaluating techniques.
2. Safeguarding mechanism needs to be established and improved. For the moment, China lacks a
full-time technical organization for national food safety standard work; lacking people engage
in food safety standard work and insufficient funds hinders standard formulation and revision
3. China needs to cultivate a standard team. Because of insufficient and scattered professionals,
standard research capacity and competence cannot meet the current needs for work.
II. Guiding Ideology, Basic Principle and Objectives
(I) Guiding Ideology. With Deng Xiaoping Theory and the important thought of the "Three
Represents" as a guide, thoroughly implement the scientific outlook on development, faithfully
implement the Food Safety Law and its implementing regulations, adhere to the principle of
“prevention foremost, scientific management”, put the protection of public health as its aim, actively
absorb international experiences on the basis of food safety risk assessment, and speed up the
streamlining and integration of food standards in China, formulate and improve national food safety
standards, and build up the scientific, rational, safe and reliable national food safety standards
safeguarding the health of the people in conformity with the situation of China overall.
(II) Basic Principles.
1. Standard formulation in accordance with the law. The legislative aim of the Food Safety Law should
be reflected in national food safety standards, with the protection of public health as the starting point
and final goal, and the requirements for food safety laws and regulations should be implemented,
covering food safety requirements that are closely related to health of people.
2. Risk assessment as the scientific basis. National food safety standards should be formulated on
the basis of results of food safety risk assessment. Design of standards shall emphasize potential food
safety risks for human health.
3. Standard formulation based on situation in China combining with learning from the
international standards. National food safety standards should be formulated in compliance with
situation in China and development of the food industry. Standards shall take into consideration actual
conditions of relevant industries, requirements of standard supervision and continuous improvement
of people’s living, at the same time, actively learning from the relevant international standards and
management experience, as well as operation of standards.
4. Adhere to the principle of openness and transparency. Improve standard administration; by
expanding scope and methods of collecting comments, China encourages the general public, legal
persons and other organizations to take an active part in national food safety standard formulation
and revision to protect the public's right to know and supervise.
(III) Main Objectives.
—Review and integrate existing food standards. By 2015, complete review and integration of
mandatory content in edible agricultural product quality safety standards, food hygiene standards,
food quality standards and industry standards; basically solve the problems of overlapping, repetitious
and conflicting contents in different standards, and form a relatively comprehensive system of national
food safety standards.
—Speed up formulation and revision of national food safety standards. Improve generality,
scientific base is and applicability of national food safety standards. China aims to establish a national
food safety standard system that is in conformity with its situation, industrial development and food
—Improve the administration of national food safety standards. China plans to establish an
administration system and working mechanism featuring regulated / open and transparent
procedures, which is guided by the government, coordinated by relevant government departments
and participated in by the entire society so as to improve scientific and fair review on national food
—Strengthen standards publicity and implementation. Relevant government agencies shall launch
publicity/trainings to promote learning and implementation of national food safety standards; they
will ensure faithful implementation of national food safety standards in food production and
distribution so as to further improve the situation of food safety.
(I) Review and integrate existing food standards in an all-around way. (MOH) shall review
mandatory content in edible agricultural product quality safety standards, food hygiene standards,
food quality standards and industry standards; by this, (MOH) will solve the problems of overlapping,
repetitive and conflicting standards
(MOH) will compare and analyze food safety indices and mandatory quality indices, determine
principles and methods before carrying out the review work. By the end of 2013, (MOH) plans to
review mandatory contents in the over 2000 national food safety standards and over 2900 industrial
standards. Based on the review work, (MOH) will 1) bring forward opinions whether the standards or
technical indices shall remain effective, to be integrated or annulled; and 2) complete integration and
elimination of relevant standards by the end of 2015.
(II) Speed up formulation and revision of basic food safety standards. Following the principle of
“review and improving the standards simultaneously”, (MOH) will accelerate formulation and revision
of national food safety standards by learning from foreign counterparts; with these, (MOH) will
improve the Chinese food safety standards, and solve the problems of lacking important food safety
standards and inconsistent standards.
(MOH) will lay emphasis on formulation and revision of basic food safety standards, including
limits of harmful substances in food (pollutant, fungi and toxin and pathogenic microbe of food), limit
of pesticide and veterinary medicine residue, food additive use, food nutrition fortifier use,
prepackaged food label and nutriment label, food packaging materials and food additives.
By the end of 2015, (MOH) will revise limit standards of food pollutant, fungi and toxin, pesticide
and veterinary medicine residue; it will revise the standards on use of food additive and food nutrition
fortifier; (MOH) will formulate pathogenic microbe limit standards of food, define instructive
requirement on microbe control in food producing and distribution process, establish guidance on fast
food microbe control, and scientifically indicate microbe indices, limits and control requirements of
food product; (MOH) will improve relevant standards on materials of food vessels, packaging and
processing equipment, and improve food-related standards on the use of food additives in food
vessels and packages.
(III) Improve hygiene requirements standard on food production and operation. MOH will
formulate and revise regulations and standards on food production and operation for the purposes of
strengthening safety control in food production and operation; it will tighten requirements on raw
material, production, transportation, storage and hygiene management; in addition, MOH wish to
prevent and control food safety risk by regulating food production and operations.
By the end of 2015, (MOH) plans to formulate over 20 national food safety standards, including
sanitary regulations for food/food additive producers and operators, good practice for health food
production, which will cover the entire process of food production and operation. In addition, MOH
plans to further break down the requirements and criteria on food pollution control in food production
and operation in accordance with food category, production / operation mode and other features.
(IV) Reasonably set up food products safety standards. Taking into consideration of product
characteristics and potential risks, (MOH) will, after risk assessment, give priority to standards of major
food products (such as meat, alcoholic liquor, vegetable oil, spices, infant food, dairy products) and
health food products and food additive, set limits on harmful substances in food that are not covered
by basic food safety standards; it will also set mandatory quality indices that are related to food safety.
(MOH) will take into account generality and coverage of the standards to avoid overlapping or
repetition in different standards.
By the end of 2015, (MOH) will formulate and revise safety standards of primary food products
(such as meat, alcoholic liquor, vegetable oil, spices, infant food, dairy products, food additive, health
food products, aquatic products, grains, beans and beverages). (MOH) will formulate safety standards
for food products that have had international standards or import trade but still lack of relevant
standards in China.
(V) Establish and improve standards on food testing methods. MOH will establish comprehensive
food inspection methods and standard procedures system, focusing on standards on testing methods
pursuant to limit indices in national food safety standards.
By the end of 2015, MOH will formulate and revise, with priority, standards of testing methods for
various pollutants, fungi and toxin, pesticides, veterinary medicine residue and food additives, as well
as food-related products; it will further improve standards on toxicological safety evaluation
procedures and detecting methods.
(VI) Improve administration of national food safety standards. MOH will improve the mechanism
of extensive opinion solicitation of national food safety standards and protect its smooth channels, so
that national food safety standards are scientific, reasonable, safe and reliable.
By the end of 2012, MOH will launch relevant mechanisms regulating tracking and evaluating of
national food safety standards. By the end of 2013, China will improve administration mechanism and
working procedures addressing standards establishment, formulation, revision, opinion solicitation,
standard assessment, assessment commission management, national food safety standard
announcement, as well as applying for new standard formulation, enquiry and interpretation, and
strengthen risk communication and exchange in the process of standards formulation or revision. All
these will guarantee the process more open and transparent.
(VII) Strengthen publicity and implementation of national food safety standards. For the purpose
of promoting implementation of national food safety standards, MOH will reinforce publicity, training,
counseling, and tracking/appraisal work after promulgation of national food safety standards. It will
emphasize publicity of national food safety standards and science popularization, in particular
standards that are highly technical and are concerned by the public, and timely answer standard-
related questions. MOH will encourage industries and enterprises to actively implement national food
safety standards; relevant supervising authorities shall supervise food safety in accordance with the
law and standards, carry out tracking and appraisal of national food safety standards to identify
problems in standard implementation, and at an appropriate time to revise and improve national food
(VIII) Carry out studies on national food safety standards. MOH will carry out basic studies on food
safety standards systematically to make them more scientific and practical.
By the end of 2015, MOH will:
1) Complete the study on application of risk assessment principles in national food safety
2) Complete the study that tracks and compares international food safety standards;
3) Complete the study on design of indices system of microbes in food; and
4) Complete the study on principles of using major functional food additives.
The research results shall be applied in standard work.
(IX) Get more involved in international food codex affairs. Based on its need to develop the
Chinese national food safety standard system, China will actively take part in the work of Codex
Committee on Food, which is a chance for China to learn and absorb advanced food standard
management experience. Such involvement in formulation and revision of international food codex
standards also safeguards China’s interest in food trade.
By 2015, China will fully participate in various activities of the Codex Committee on Food, and
timely track standard work of food codex. It will comprehensively understand the food safety standard
system of major trading members of the World Trade Organization (WTO) to track their progress of
work in food safety regulations and standards, and do a good job in the WTO / SPS notification and
review. China will participate in or take lead in formulation/revision of international food standards
and technical exchanges that are closely related to interests of China in food trade. China will, in a
continuous manner, improve its work as the host country and Asian executive member of the Codex
Committee on Food Additive and the Codex Committee on Pesticide Residue.
IV. Safeguard Measures
(I) Establish a national food safety standards coordination and cooperation working mechanism.
China will establish a consultation mechanism of national food safety standards, which is comprised of
the Ministry of Health (MOH), the National Reform and Development Commission (NDRC), the
Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST), the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology
(MIIT), the Ministry of Finance (MOF), the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA), the Ministry of Commerce
(MOFCOM), State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC), State Administration of Quality
Supervision and Quarantine (AQSIQ), State Administration of Grain, State Food and Drug
Administration (SFDA), National Standards Committee, Certification and Accreditation Administration
(CNCA) and the State Council Food Safety Office. Coordination will be strengthened in studying key
issues in development of the national food safety standards system. They would coordinate and carry
out tasks assigned, break down the tasks specified in the Plan, clarify objectives/responsible agencies;
these will facilitate task implementation and supervision. The MOH shall take lead in implementing the
Plan, and organize the review, formulation and revision of the standards with relevant government
departments. Food supervisory authorities shall collaborate positively in participating in reviewing of
national and industrial food standards that are under their jurisdiction; they shall provide routine
monitoring / supervising / inspection data, urge relevant industries and enterprises to follow national
food safety standards in their production and operation, and collect and summarize the problems of
national food safety standards in the implementation process, and inform health departments in a
timely manner. Industrial authorities shall take initiative part in the standard system construction and
work together to do a good job in standard formulation / revision / publicity, and guide industries to
follow the standards.
(II) Increase input into national food safety standard system. The central government will
continuously increase funds channeled for formulation and revision of national food safety standards,
with emphasis on formulation and revision of key standards specified in the Plan. While guaranteeing
sufficient investment, the fund use should be strictly monitored for efficiency and compliance. In
establishing technical platforms for various types of standards, it is suggested to make full use of
existing research institutions and industrial organizations of food safety standards. Such institutions
and organizations are encouraged to participate in formulation, revision, publicity and technical
consulting of the standards.
(III) Cultivate talented people for food safety standard work. Establish the National Food Safety
Risk Assessment Center and the Secretariat of National Assessment Committee of Food Safety
Standards. China would attract more leading talents to engage in food safety standards; the number of
professionals for standard study and administration will be increased to strengthen the technical force
of food safety standards. China will strengthen standardized training for professionals in key scientific
R&D colleges, universities and technical institutions. In addition, China will build a large team of
competent experts that engage in standard development, who will carry out formulation and revision
of food safety standards.
(IV) Supervise implementation of tasks. The MOH will adjust the Plan pursuant to requirements
on food safety supervision and standard management, formulate annual implementation plan in a
timely, dynamical and scientific manner, and conscientiously organize its implementation. At the same
time, it will timely organize inspection and assessment of tasks required by the Plan. By strengthening
supervision and evaluation, relevant agencies will guarantee implementation of each task.
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