306997 Ying Chen
Dr. Ying Chen, Lecturer in Law, University of New England School of Law, Armidale, NSW2351, Australia. Email: ychen56@une.edu.au.
  • Abstract

      Over the past decade, food safety has evolved into a compelling issue in China. The Chinese government has been committed to strengthening the regulatory framework. A series of laws and regulations ensuring the quality and safety of food in the interests of public health have been promulgated. However, a fairly comprehensive set of laws, along with harsh punishments, does not substantially deter food safety violations. Rather, foodborne illnesses continue to occur on a daily basis. How to improve food safety has become China’s national priority; it is also the main focus of this research. This article determines that one of the main obstacles to food safety is poor implementation of laws. It identifies the external and internal impediments to food safety governance in China. It further proposes an evolving series of potential solutions. Externally, weak enforcement undermines the credibility of the food safety laws. Internally, food manufacturers and distributors in China lack the sense of corporate social responsibility (CSR). To effectively reduce or even remove the external impediment, it is imperative to improve the overall governance in various sectors. As for the internal impediment, incorporating CSR principles into business operations is vital for food safety governance. In fact, the enforcement of many regional trade agreements, in particular, the enforcement of China–Australia FTA (ChAFTA) will largely increase market share of Australian food products in China. Undoubtedly, Chinese food businesses will face unprecedented competition. The pressure to gain competitive advantages in food markets yields an enormous change in motivation for Chinese food businesses. Chinese food companies will ultimately be forced to ‘voluntarily’ integrate CSR principles into their business operations. A significant change in the food sector is expected to be seen within the next decade. The article concludes that better practice in food safety governance in China requires two essential elements: a comprehensive regulatory and cooperative framework with essential rules and institutions, and an effective implementation mechanism involving both the public and private sectors.

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