China’s General Administration of Customs recently promulgated new Measures on the Administration of Import and Export Food Safety (the “Measures”), which will take effect on January 1, 2022.[1]  The Measures integrate five individual inspection and quarantine regulations (to be abolished when the Measures take effect) for import and export of special categories of foods, including meat products, aquatic products, dairy products, and honey.

The Measures also establish and refine a series of food safety supervision regimes.  These include establishing a system for overseas food safety inspection and evaluation, providing more detailed requirements for food importers’ independent audit obligations, and providing specific penalties for violations of the Measures, such as penalties for violating importer filing requirements, refusing to cooperate with customs import and export food safety inspections, and removing imported foods from designated locations without authorization from Customs.

Additionally, the Measures provide more detailed guidance for when “import control measures” such as restricting, suspending, or prohibiting importation could be initiated under Article 52 of the Food Safety Law Implementation Regulations.[2]  Specifically, the Measures provide that the customs may suspend or ban importation certain kind of foods when there is evidence that the foods have been contaminated by pathogens of infectious diseases or can be a vector for the spreading of pathogens.  This aligns with a trend of increased scrutiny in China related to screening for COVID-19 contamination of food products, particularly food requiring cold storage.  The State Council’s COVID-19 prevention team released such guidance late last year.[3]

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Contributors for the China Food Law and Regulation blog:

John Balzano, Julia Post, Muyun Hu, Annie Wang, and Audrey Zhi

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[1] Available at http://www.customs.gov.cn/customs/302249/2480148/3619657/index.html.

[2] Article 52 of the Food Safety Law Implementation Regulations provides that “In the event that a food safety incident occurring abroad may have an impact in China, or when noting serious food safety problems in imported foods/food additives/food-related products, the national entry and exit inspection and quarantine department shall promptly issue a risk alert, and may take the following control measures towards relevant foods, food additives or food related products:

(i) Reject or destroy the product;

(ii) Restrict imports with conditions;

(iii) Suspend or ban imports.

[3] See http://www.gov.cn/xinwen/2020-11/09/content_5559179.htm.

Photo of Muyun Hu Muyun Hu

Muyun Hu advises multinational and Chinese companies on a range of regulatory, policy, transactional, and litigation matters. Her work focuses on the life science industry, particularly with regard to food, drug, medical device, cosmetic, and other regulated products.