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Food safety – China

China Food Quality and Safety - Regulations and Implementation


Over the past several years, China has undertaken significant reforms to its legal and regulatory system in order to enhance food safety along the value chain for both domestic and exported products. In April 2015, the National People’s Congress of the People’s Republic of China amended the 2009 Food Safety Law, which covers production and distribution of food and food additives; food sales and restaurant services (‘distribution’); packaging and food tools and equipment, storage and transportation; and safety management of food, food additives, and food related products. This amended law took effect in October 2015, and impacts food safety requirements, such as licensing restrictions and enforcement, as well as the regulatory structure, by providing a more prominent role for the China Food and Drug Administration. Implementation of these new national food safety standards has begun, yet these will require further action and assessment in order to ensure transparent enforcement.

The Syngenta Foundation, together with its partner the New Markets Lab, plans to undertake a series of studies looking at the legal and regulatory environment of China’s food quality and safety with a focus on implementation. This includes a legal study of the recent revisions to China’s Food Safety Law and corresponding regulations, as well as relevant reform of food safety standards. The study provides an in-depth assessment of the relevant food safety legal and regulatory system, with a focus on implementation challenges that may arise for the private sector under new laws and regulations. The findings of the study will underpin a series of case studies, the first of which was carried out in 2016, focusing on the horticulture value chain.

A few other case studies are under preparation. The case studies will be designed to demonstrate how the new food safety rules and regulatory structure will impact companies, farmers/producers, consumers, regulatory authorities, and other stakeholders, highlighting the connection between the law, regulation, and economic opportunity. The case studies will highlight both the legal and regulatory dimension and the economic aspects of food safety implementation, including cost and time. To support the case studies on particular value chains, consultations with local companies and other stakeholders, including farms and regulatory authorities, will be conducted in China. The focus will be on understanding how the new food safety system is being implemented, what additional challenges may arise, and how stakeholders are interacting with the food safety regulatory system. 

In addition, a study of international best practices in food safety implementation, drawing from public and private sector experiences, will be conducted. Desk research will assess international best practices from both government and the private sector with regard to food safety law and its implementation in order to gather information on enforceable food safety systems that could be applicable in China. This will provide information about the implementation of China’s new legal framework.

China research projects continue a long tradition of working with Chinese institutions, e.g. on agricultural extension.


Kuhlmann, K., Wang M. Y., and Zhou Y. (2017). Chinese Medicinal Herbs Case Study. A joint study by the Syngenta Foundation and the New Markets Lab.

Kuhlmann, K., Wang M. Y., and Zhou Y. (2017). Assessment of Good Regulatory Practices for Food Safety and Implications for China's New Legal Regime. A joint study by the Syngenta Foundation and the New Markets Lab.

Kuhlmann, K., Wang M. Y., and Zhou Y. (2017). China Food Safety Legal and Regulatory Assessment. A joint study by the Syngenta Foundation and the New Markets Lab.

Kuhlmann, K., Wang M. Y., and Zhou Y. (2016). China Horticulture Case Study. A joint study by the Syngenta Foundation and the New Markets Lab.


If you would like to know more about this project, please write to Yuan Zhou