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Currently, there are several administrative bodies, national and local, with the authority to deal with the issues relating to food safety and a host of food related laws, administrative statutes, notices and decisions which make up China’s food hygiene and safety system.

Key principles

To ensure food safety, the Chinese government adheres to the principle of giving priority to prevention and control at its root by monitoring and controlling the whole process wherein local governments take the responsibility, related departments coordinate and provide guidance and different sectors make concerted efforts under the unified national leadership.

Main regulatory organizations

A 2004 State Council Decision on Further Strengthening Food Safety Supervision, divided food safety supervision into four areas:

  • The production of primary agricultural products is supervised by the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA),
  • The quality and daily hygiene supervision of food processing is overseen by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ)
  • The supervision of food circulation and distribution is done by the State Administration for Industry and Commence (SAIC)
  • The overall responsibility for food and drug safety and of coordination of food safety matters as well as food crisis investigations will be supervised by the Ministry of Health (MOH)

China’s Food Hygiene Law forms the basis of the legal framework for food safety, food production, and the regulation of China’s food industry. It specifies the hygiene standards for foodstuffs, food additives, food containers, food packaging labels as well as for storage and production facilities and equipment used for food production and transportation.  The MOH administers the Food Hygiene Law and issues the Food Additive Hygiene Standard (GB2760) and amendments which serve as a positive list for food additives in China.

The Ministry of Agriculture is responsible of the legislation and control of organic foodstuffs which are regulated under the national standard GB/T 19630-2005 "Organic Product.”  These standards, along with other regulations relating to organic product certification regulate the production, processing, labelling and marketing, and management of organic products in China. Pre-market approval is required.