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China - new food safety law?

Posted by andrewivesonadmin | Posted 8th March 2017 | Blog, and News

For many years, there has been rapid growth in China, which has led to new regulations in many industries. Included in this, we saw the introduction of the new Food Safety Act in 2015.

Within this, the Chinese government is looking to strengthen and create new requirements for both domestic producers and overseas companies looking to export in to China.

Throughout the consultation process, the UK has been engaged in conversation with the authorities in China directly and also through the European Union. For the most part, the UK Government has looked to calm worries as we already adhere to strong food safety regulations. When new requirements come in, they have assured all producers that they will be aligned with international standards so it therefore shouldn’t be a burden.

Although the final outcome has yet to be decided, we need to be ready for quick changes and these may include the following;

  • Controls over infant formula will strengthen in terms of labelling and volume and brands permitted
  • For some ambient products, Export Health Certification may now be required from October 2017 onwards
  • With high-risk foods (eg health and nutrition foods), controls will strengthen once again
  • Finally, requirements for Chinese labelling are also set to get more stringent


Currently, the UKFDEA are working with DEFRA, and information will be made available as soon as decisions are made. Furthermore, the CBBC are offering various webinars and seminars in order to spread the word of the new requirements and what it means for UK business. Moving forward, companies have been strongly advised to work with their importers/agents to ensure a smooth transition.


Will You Need An Export Health Certificate (EHC)? – Currently, an EHC, signed by an official veterinarian (OV) is required for fresh products such as dairy, meat and fish, but the Chinese Government plans to expand this somewhat. If these plans go ahead, ambient products may be included too such as alcohol, snacks and packaged goods. At the moment, it is believed that existing EHCs will remain in place for those products currently needing an EHC anyway.

Will an Audit Take Place at Your Premises? – Among others, this has been a huge concern and the new Food Safety Law does suggest that all Chinese importers are to take responsibility for their own audit system. However, there are no details as of yet regarding what the system should look like or whether the importer will need to visit the site.


Current EHCs – As mentioned, there are some products that already require EHCs and this includes:-


Pig Meat – frozen meat as long as it is UK-born and free from certain disease. Processed products and viscera are excluded. As well as requiring an import permit, the establishment needs to be approved for Chinese export. Furthermore, there needs to be full health confirmation from the slaughterhouse OV.


Dairy – including milk, yogurt and infant formula, all milk products must originate from within the UK, In addition to the confirmation of the heat treatment and processing, they should also carry an oval health mark. To export to China, the establishment needs to appear on the CNCA-approved list.


Hides – Currently, hides are on this list along with products from sheep or cow origin such as skins, hair, and even wool.


Fish and Fish Products – both raw and processed. The production plants must be China approved.


Finally, there a few important guidelines for certificates to China, as there have been reports of EHCs being rejected if not compliant.

  • EHCs must be fully typed as opposed to being written by hand.
  • The OV needs to be specifically China approved, which all Amivet Exports vets are anyway.
  • Chinese customs are not keen on attached schedules and dislike even minor typographical errors.


Conclusion – As you can see, there could be some big changes afoot but the details are still a little vague. As long as you are prepared for changes and ready to adapt, there shouldn’t be a need for complete disruption. We will of course make our views known and keep you up to date with any news.

China is one of the UK Government’s key target markets to grow exports over the next few years  as part of its food-drink-export-action-plan-2016-2020 so we hope this will continue to be the case.


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You may have seen our new report mentioned by @helentbbc on Newsnight. 34 days before the end of the Brexit transition serious concerns remain about readiness for export certification and vet capacity. https://twitter.com/BritishVets/status/1332465237262553090

#Brexitreality - from 1/1/21, a single vehicle of mixed retail goods (poultry, lamb, beef, venison, game, meat products, dairy, egg, composites, gelatin, honey, pet food etc) going to Spain via France for 2 customers may need over 80 health certs signed by official vets!

#Brexitreality - until we get 3rd country listing and any special guarantees applying, official vets do not yet know which #export health certificates we need to use, nor which sections we need to complete or delete. #36daystogo

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