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Food safety governance in China: From supervision to coregulation


Nov 29, 2019

The food control and regulatory system in China is beset by several challenges. While firms have to reduce their costs in pursuit of benefits, customers are increasingly focusing on safety and quality of food products. Although the Chinese government has developed more stringent regulatory measures, food safety incidents still occur, including abuse of food additives, adulterated products as well as contamination by pathogenic microorganisms, pesticides, veterinary drug residues, and heavy metals, and use of substandard materials. A national food safety strategy has been proposed to assure food safety from farm to table. This paper begins with the analysis of current food regulatory systems and then discusses cogovernance of food safety management in China. We explore the practice in the city of Shenzhen where government intervention has strengthened food control, thereby creating an opportunity to form a coregulatory system. The review highlights that the current food safety regulatory system of multi-agency structure can inevitably lead to insufficient incentives for business entities. Due to asymmetric information, lack of regulatory resources, and consumer advocacy, coregulation has been developed and is increasingly being promoted as an important instrument of food regulation.

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