Sponsored by Cowala Infant Formula (GMP Dairy) , the China and New Zealand International Food Safety Forum was held in Auckland, New Zealand, and attended by a host of international delegates including Jamestrong Packaging Australia and New Zealand key account manager Christine Slade, Infant Nutrition Council of Australia & New Zealand CEO Jan Carey, and New Zealand minister for food safety, David Bennett.
Major Chinese Government officials in attendance included director general of the CFDA, Mr Zhang Jing, vice director general of the Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine of the People’s Republic of China (AQSIQ), Mr Wang Hongbing and the vice division director of the Certification and Accreditation Administration of the People’s Republic of China (CNCA), Mr Lu Chao.
Topics discussed included the maintenance of high quality standards and CNCA licences that are required for manufacturers to export infant formula (IF) to China, with the changes coming into effect in Jan 2018, and brand registrations required by manufacturers by the Chinese Food and Drug Administration (CFDA).
NZFSC general manager Marjana Pavlovic said that – just like its counterpart, the CFIC in China – the NZFSC was established to exchange technical and regulatory training with other countries. She said the increased variety and strictness of Chinese food safety regulations meant international trading was receiving greater attention from different food industries, and that the event was aimed at promoting greater communication between New Zealand and China regarding food safety management and legislation within the dairy industry, and to reinforce the longstanding international trading relationship between the countries. Food safety is becoming a major focus for consumers and related issues are significantly amplified when involving international trade. As such, governments in many countries are taking measures to secure and improve food safety. This has resulted in an increased level of regulation and scrutiny, and in response countries such as New Zealand, Australia and China are leading food safety initiatives to promote consumer confidence.
Topics discussed at the forum included food safety control of China’s infant formula industry, New Zealand’s regulatory requirements for infant formula exports to China, regulation of China’s imported dairy products and policies for dairy industry regulation, and the introduction of a Chinese infant formula milk powder Standard.
Jamestrong key account manager Christine Slade said the forum included a strong focus on food safety for dairy products imported into China to ensure the safety of infants. “The forum was a fantastic vehicle for deepening the understanding of different countries’ food safety regulations and manufacturing practices. It helped clarify and develop understanding of current regulations and legislation and future directions,” Ms Slade said. “It was clear from the forum that Australia and New Zealand are seen by China as premium dairy regions and we need to keep the focus on very high-quality food safety standards.”
Ms Pavlovic said the forum’s main goal was to learn and share. “It was a unique opportunity to enhance cooperation and communication,” she said. “We met government officials from attending countries and got to know and establish working relationships with them,” said Ms Pavlovic. “It helped our industry to understand the process and reasons for regulatory changes in China. The market is huge and its government had to implement new measures to control the vast number of overseas and domestic brands that are currently available. “Regulatory standards in both countries are similar; both countries have conducted reviews of infant formula standards and are adjusting current ones. New Zealand implemented a food safety culture a long time ago and other countries highly respect our commitment to manufacturing safe food. Transparency is also a huge factor; overseas governments trust official assurances from NZ.”
New NZ manufacturing standards for infant formula are in draft version and are expected to be published towards the end of the year. This will improve our level of compliance and clarify certain ‘grey’ areas. “It will be difficult but achievable; stricter rules will improve quality and safety of products overall. New Zealand infant formula will maintain its premium status – we will become even better,” she said. “There are still open discussions on some measures and still some unclear points. China is aware of such concerns and officials have promised to address those.”
The body representing the infant formula industry in Australia and New Zealand, the Infant Nutrition Council (INC) was also in attendance, and CEO Jan Carey said its members – including Jamestrong Packaging – are responsible for over 95 per cent of the volume of infant formula manufactured, sold in Australia and New Zealand and exported.
Ms Carey said the INC focuses on a broad sweep of issues and key priorities for the IF industry. It sets standards for its members to achieve best practice and members must adhere to a self-regulatory code of conduct, comply with laws and regulations governing the manufacture and exportof IF products and abide by industry codes for the marketing of IF products.
“The safety of global food supply chains can only be assured by the integrity of the industries they service,” said Ms Carey. “The INC aims to ensure that parents can be confident in the safety and integrity of IF made, sold or exported by any INC member company. This is vital because what is at stake is the health and safety of the world’s most vulnerable population.”
Ms Carey presented on setting industry standards and said the forum was “a great opportunity to improve the NZ/China governments’ relationship, to showcase how industry works with government in NZ and to facilitate a cross-fertilisation of ideas between Chinese government authorities and between and with NZ government authorities to achieve a greater understanding of the issues and regulations”.
“The overall out-take from the presentation messaging was that food safety is of paramount importance to both the NZ and Chinese governments and the infant formula industry. “We are supplying clean, green, high-quality infant formula products in Australasia, but in the face of tighter Chinese regulations I think there’s a growing need for improved traceability and supply chain integrity,” Ms Carey said. “In the meantime, we will continue to facilitate dialogue and relationship- building between industry and government, and informing our members of such developments.”
This story was sourced from Jamestrong Packaging’s Can & Aerosol News Issue 170, March 2017.