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China Announces Restructuring of Food and Food Packaging Regulatory Agencies

The Chinese government approved a restructuring plan on March 14, 2013, which will result in extensive changes to China's regulatory agencies responsible for food and food packaging. A goal of the restructuring plan is to streamline food regulatory matters.

Under the plan a newly established ministry-level China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) will assume unified control of food safety during production, distribution, and consumption of food. It authority will most likely also extend to food ingredients, food additives, food-contact substances, food-use disinfectants, and health foods. These responsibilities have been divided between the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), State Administration of Industry and Commerce (SAIC), and State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA). Under the restructuring plan, AQSIQ and SAIC will transfer their food supervision-related duties to CFDA, while SFDA will be fully integrated into CFDA.

In addition, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will be merged into the newly established National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC). NHFPC will retain the functions of assessing food safety risks and establishing national Food Safety Standards, which are currently assigned to MOH. (See link below to view diagrams of China's current and new regulatory agencies responsible for food and packaging.)

China's Food Safety Law will also be revised to accommodate the restructuring plan. It is expected that interim rules will be issued to govern the transition period. However, the full impact of the restructuring on the approval process for food-contact material remains uncertain at this point.