Customs officers check imported food on a ship in Rongcheng, Shandong province, on Oct 7. (Photo by LIN HAIZHEN/FOR CHINA DAILY)
Authorities roll out measures to prevent transmission of disease via imported goods
China, which is committed to ensuring food safety, has redoubled its efforts to bring safe and healthy food to dining tables across the country amid the global COVID-19 outbreak. To that end, the country has been rolling out measures to improve supervision of imported and home-produced food.
As COVID-19 continues to spread globally, cluster outbreaks have been reported in a number of food-processing enterprises overseas, bringing cold chain products under close scrutiny by Chinese authorities.
In a move to prevent possible virus transmission via imported food, the customs authority in July halted imports from three shrimp producers in Ecuador.
The authority ordered frozen products from the companies to be returned or destroyed after samples from the inner wall of a container and the products' outer packaging tested positive for the virus.
Though the test results didn't mean the virus could infect people via food, they exposed loopholes in the companies' food safety regulations, said Bi Kexin, head of the Import and Export Food Safety Bureau at the General Administration of Customs.
Li Ning, a researcher with the China National Center for Food Safety Risk Assessment, said food has a low transmission risk, but there was a possibility of transmission if the processing environment was contaminated or workers were infected.
Regarding food safety as an important task for the country and authorities at all levels, the government has called for the strongest measures, the most rigorous standards, the strictest supervision, the severest punishments for violators and the most effective system of accountability.
Faced with a rising number of COVID-19 cases globally, the task of ensuring farm-to-fork food safety entails comprehensive containment measures.
As a result, China has been stepping up efforts to keep a close eye on imported food and food-related industries at home.