China, Italy tackle food safety

CNC reporting from Beijing
Added On May 1, 2013

China and Italy have decided to cooperate on improving food safety, after multiple food safety scandals in both China and Europe in recent years.

A senior official from China's Ministry of Commerce made the announcement in Milan on Monday .

The "China-Italy food safety forum" is now being held in Italy's commercial center, Milan.

In a keynote speech at the forum, Jiang Fan , Deputy Director General of China's Ministry of Commerce, said trade between Italy and China in food products has grown steadily in recent years.

Among those products, Italy is the largest exporter of chocolate to China with a market share of 40.3 percent.

It's also the second largest exporter of pasta... While olive oil, wine, coffee and cheese are also increasingly appreciated in China.

China also exported 7.5 billion U.S. dollars worth of food products to Europe last year... accounting for 29 percent of China's food exports.

But safety remains a key concern... After dozens of scandals rocked Chinese and foreign consumers in recent years...

From mercury-tainted milk scandal in China - with many mothers still unwilling to buy Chinese dairy products or baby formula...

To horse meat being passed off as beef across Europe, unravelling the reputation of some of the continent's biggest meat exporters...

With Italy finding 3.9 percent of its meat, contained horse.

In light of the impact safety scares have had on both countries' food sales, around 100 officials and companies from the two countries are attending the food safety forum...

And they believe the forum offers a new platform food trade companies.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) LYU WEI, Shandong Province Commerce Dept:
"There are about 4,000 food trade companies in our province, and most of their partners are in Eurpoe. So we've been trying to establish a platform for those companies."

As part of a broad restructuring of the Chinese government, the China Food and Drug Administration was made a ministry-level organ, to become the country's more powerful watchdog over food safety.

And the Economic Counselor of Italian Embassy in Beijing, Livio Spadavecchia, says China's growing attention over food quality and safety, is opening new doors for dialogue with European exporters.