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How can UK companies who are working with suppliers in China ensure food products meet the correct standards?

There are a number of means by which UK companies measure and maintain food safety standards when working with suppliers in China. As food safety standards are not harmonised worldwide, it is up to individual companies and departments to choose how they go about ensuring the goods they receive are produced to an acceptable level.

Due to the fact that many products are used for export, companies commonly use internationally recognised benchmarking standards set by organisations such as the British Retail Consortium or Global Food Safety Initiative, which can be independently assessed to and certified against. Using standards can cut spending on research and development and avoid duplication of effort when developing methodology and specifications that are already available. Other UK retailers hire specialist food safety auditors to inspect their supply chain to their own requirements and organisations.

Many of the larger food manufacturers are now moving to demand the Food Safety System Certification 22000 (FSSC 22000) which is an international standard confirming that the recipient has passed the audit of compliance with the scheme’s requirements. This will help to enhance transparency and efficiency in the food chain.

The Certification and Accreditation Administration of China regulates certification systems within the country. When internationally-recognised management systems are used, some companies may choose a CNCA approved certification body to conduct the assessment. However, British companies tend to use international certification bodies.

Holly Chen is a CBBC Consultant in China with extensive expertise on food safety. For more information on this topic, please contact holly.chen@cbbc.org.cn

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