China’s State Administration for Market Regulation (“SAMR”) recently issued Administrative Measures for the Supervision and Inspection of Food Production and Distribution (the “Measures”), which took effect on March 15, 2022. The Measures implement manufacturing and distribution requirements in China’s Food Safety Law and build upon the 2016 version of the measures on routine inspections of food production and distribution facilities.
The Measures provide that provincial-level market supervision bureaus (“MSBs”) that regulate food locally may, in accordance with SAMR’s list of key points for supervision and inspection of food production and distribution, formulate a list of priority inspection items for their respective areas. Inspectors of food producers should focus on, the qualifications of food producers, production environmental conditions, production process control, product inspection, storage and delivery control, labeling, food recall, and handling of food safety incidents. For contract manufacturing arrangements, the Measures direct inspectors to focus on recordkeeping of foods entrusted for production and the entrusting party’s (e.g., the brand owner’s) supervision of the entrusted party’s food production. The Measures provide key points for the inspection of food retailers, producers and sellers of special foods, centralized trading market operators, and catering services.
The Measures direct local MSBs to conduct inspections of all food producers and sellers within their region at least once every two years. Inspectors are permitted to conduct sampling inspections of the food produced, review and copy account books and other relevant materials, seal or seize food and equipment that have evidence of not meeting food safety standards, and seal facilities that illegally engage in food production and distribution activities.
Unlike the prior version from 2016, the Measures provide detailed direction on inspection of food labeling. Specifically, when inspections reveal defects in food labeling or instructions, MSBs shall order the parties concerned to make corrections; when food producers have instituted remedial measures and can ensure food safety, such food products may continue to be sold as long as the remedial measure are clearly conveyed to consumers. In determining whether food labels or instructions are defective, factors such as safety, the subjective fault of the parties, and consumers’ understanding shall be considered. Citing Article 125 of the Food Safety Law, the Measures provide a list of circumstances under which labels are to be deemed defective, including when the translation of foreign languages is inaccurate, when the size and height of foreign language characters are larger than the Chinese characters, and when the ingredient list sequence is not standardized.
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 Available at https://gkml.samr.gov.cn/nsjg/fgs/202112/t20211231_338736.html.
 Available at https://gkml.samr.gov.cn/nsjg/spscs/202203/t20220311_340370.html.