Officers from a local market supervision authority inspect seafood at a supermarket in Lianyungang, Jiangsu province, in July, 2020. [Photo by WANG CHUN/FOR CHINA DAILY]
To cut off overseas virus transmission channels, China has intensified inspection and testing of imported food in the cold chain.
As of Sept 15, the General Administration of Customs had suspended imports from 56 cold chain food companies overseas.
Mechanisms to facilitate coordination and information sharing have also been put in place, while food retailers have been ordered to take steps as soon as a problem is spotted.
"Whether it is imported or home-produced, food sold in the domestic market should be strictly supervised according to the law," said Dang Qianying, an official with the State Administration for Market Regulation.
Meanwhile, Li Xingqian, director of the Foreign Trade Department at the Ministry of Commerce, said China's inspection of imported food is in line with international standards and regulations.
He stressed that food businesses should observe all new guidelines issued by the World Health Organization and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.
The steps are aimed at protecting people's health, Li Xingqian said, adding that the cluster of COVID-19 cases in Beijing in June sparked concerns over the risk of the virus being transmitted by imported refrigerated food.
Despite stricter food supervision and inspection, China will remain committed to expanding imports, and promoting agricultural trade has always been an integral part of the country's opening-up policy, Li Xingqian said.
Official data show that food and agricultural imports have grown rapidly this year, despite disruptions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. During the January to May period, imports of agricultural products rose 9 percent year-on-year, 17 percentage points higher than the country's total imports during the same period.
Bi, from the import and export food safety bureau, said China welcomes safe, quality food from all over the world, and stands ready to undertake in-depth cooperation with other countries to promote food safety and the healthy development of the global food trade.