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    special issue:food safety in China
    Editorial for the special issue on food safety in China
    Kevin Chen、Shu Geng、HUANG Ji-kun、LUO Yun-bo、SUN Qi-xin
    2015, 14(11): 2135-2135.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61187-X
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    New Food Safety Law of China and the special issue on food safety in China
    Shu Geng, LIU Xu, Roger Beachy
    2015, 14(11): 2136-2141.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61164-9
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Section 1: Policy and regulations
    No country is an island in regulating food safety: How the WTO monitors Chinese food safety laws through the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM)
    Francis Snyder
    2015, 14(11): 2142-2156.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61111-X
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Established within the framework of the World Trade Organization (WTO), the Trade Policy Review Mechanism (TPRM) reviews periodically the trade policies of all WTO Members. The review includes many aspects of food safety regulation. China’s trade policy is reviewed every two years. This paper analyses in detail the reviews of China’s trade policy in 2006, 2008, 2010, 2012 and 2014. It focuses in particular on food safety laws and types of standards, alignment of domestic standards with international standards, the role of different domestic institutions, transparency and notification of food safety measures under the WTO agreements on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS) and on Technical Barriers to Trade (TBT Agreement), import and export, and geographical indications (GIs). It concludes that the WTO TPRM can contribute, within its mandate, to reform of Chinese food safety laws and improvement of food safety in China. It notes that China has already undertaken substantial reforms of its system for regulating food safety. It recommends that China should continue to participate actively in the TPRM, follow its own path with regard to alignment and learn selectively from other WTO Members.
    Agricultural GMO safety administration in China
    KOU Jian-ping, TANG Qiao-ling, ZHANG Xian-fa
    2015, 14(11): 2157-2165.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61109-1
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Given the public concern over the safety of genetically modified (GM) technology and products, the article elaborated the safety regulatory and administration on agricultural GMOs in China. China has made a set of laws and regulations of GMO safety management and confirmed competent authorities with clear-cut responsibilities. According to the laws and regulations, GMO products before entering markets have to pass through safety evaluation, get production and processing permission and be labeled correctly. For the importation of GM products, China has set up an import approval system. In addition, China has established technical supportive systems, including safety evaluation specifications, trial specifications and criteria specifications. The existing regulatory system supervises and regulates all activities and work related to agricultural GMOs in China.
    Edible agro-products quality and safety in China
    LI Zhe-min, SU Nian-si, DONG Xiao-xia, YANG Yan-tao, WANG Yu-ting, XIAO Hong-li
    2015, 14(11): 2166-2175.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61116-9
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Ensuring an acceptable level of edible agro-products quality and safety is necessary to provide adequate protection for consumers. It is the first time that we analyzed the edible agro-products quality and safety issues in the supply chain, including production, processing, circulation, and consumption. The results indicate that the agro-products quality and safety levels improves steadily, and the supervision system and standardization system are both enhanced significantly, however, certain challenges still remain in each stage of the supply chain and the entire supervision process. Finally, five recommendations regarding four aspects (production, processing, circulation, and consumption) are concluded.
    The third-party regulation on food safety in China: A review
    ZHANG Man, QIAO Hui, WANG Xu, PU Ming-zhe, YU Zhi-jun, ZHENG Feng-tian
    2015, 14(11): 2176-2188.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61114-5
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Stakeholders in the field of food safety management in China can be classified into three categories, government, food producers (farmers and enterprises), and the third-party regulatory bodies. The third-party regulation has experienced rapid development in past twenty years, and recently received considerable attention from consumers and the central government. This paper provides a review about the development, problems and future trend of the third-party regulation on food safety in China. To be specific, five forms of the third-party regulation are assessed, including media exposure, the third-party certification, regulation by consumer associations, social movements promoted by non-governmental organizations (NGOs), and regulation by industry associations. The study concludes that media and consumer associations are the major players in the third-party regulation and are highly repudiated among customers. The food certification industry has developed rapidly, but is now facing crises of confidence among consumers because of its lack of self-regulation. NGOs and industry associations still remain in the early development stages of food safety management, and therefore, are of little importance in current regulatory bodies.
    Food safety controls in different governance structures in China’s vegetable and fruit industry
    ZHOU Jie-hong, LI Kai, LIANG Qiao
    2015, 14(11): 2189-2202.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61115-7
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Food safety issues constitute an international topic discussed by many scholars. Although there is an extensive body of literature on comparisons of food safety control practices across different governance structures, these studies have been conducted mainly in terms of qualitative and descriptive analysis. In addition, little attention has been given to family farms. This study addresses the food safety control practices adopted by firms with different governance structures in China. Food safety control is expressed by the following aspects, i.e., pollution-free, green, organic, and/or geographical indication products certification, establishment of production records, and pesticide residue testing. Three types of governance structures that engage in agricultural production are distinguished: farmer cooperatives, agricultural companies, and family farms. The food safety control practices of various governance structures are investigated based on a database that comprises 600 vegetable and fruit enterprises in Zhejiang, China. The results show that (1) pesticide residue testing is adopted by the most firms, followed by products certification, and production records are adopted by the fewest firms, and (2) agricultural companies adopt more food safety control practices than family farms, while farmer cooperatives adopt the fewest food safety control practices. Governance structure features of a cooperative in terms of ownership, decision-making, and income distribution are the main reasons for the low level of food safety control in the cooperative.
    Food safety regulatory systems in Europe and China: A study of how co-regulation can improve regulatory effectiveness
    Kevin Chen, WANG Xin-xin, SONG Hai-ying
    2015, 14(11): 2203-2217.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61113-3
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Food safety has received a great deal of attention in both developed and developing countries in recent years. In China, the numerous food scandals and scares that have struck over the past decade have spurred significant food safety regulatory reform, which has been increasingly oriented towards the public-private partnership model adopted by the Europe Union’s (EU) food safety regulatory system. This paper analyzes the development of both the EU’s and China’s food safety regulatory systems, identifies the current challenges for China and additionally considers the role of public-private partnership. The success of co-regulation in the food regulatory system would bring significant benefits and opportunities for China. Finally, this paper recommends additional measures like training and grants to improve the private’s sector effectiveness in co-regulating China’s food safety issues.
    Food safety management and regulation: International experiences and lessons for China
    L Unnevehr, V Hoffmann
    2015, 14(11): 2218-2230.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61112-1
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    China is experiencing rapid urbanization, changes in diets, and modernization of food retailing and production. In this context, food safety can become a greater concern for a variety of reasons. The purpose of this article is to review the international experiences and lessons regarding food safety management, regulation, and consumer behavior, with the goal of identifying how to improve food safety in middle income countries such as China. International experience in addressing food safety provides two general kinds of lessons. First, a middle-income country such as China needs to develop the capacity to carry out risk analysis in order to better focus public resources on the most important risks. Second, it will be important to leverage market incentives so as to make the best use of limited public capacity to enforce standards. International experiences show that food safety management is feasible where market incentives exist, and that public-private partnerships can support the process of improving food safety management. Market incentives require effective consumer or buyer demand, mechanisms to identify and reward quality, and supply chain coordination. Public efforts can be targeted to supporting these market developments for the risks that are the greatest burden to public health.
    Section 2: Detection methods and technologies
    Emerging frontier technologies for food safety analysis and risk assessment
    DONG Yi-yang, LIU Jia-hui, WANG Sai, CHEN Qi-long, GUO Tian-yang, ZHANG Li-ya, JIN Yong, SU Hai-jia, TAN Tian-wei
    2015, 14(11): 2231-2242.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61123-6
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Access to security and safe food is a basic human necessity and essential for a sustainable world. To perform hi-end food safety analysis and risk assessment with state of the art technologies is of utmost importance thereof. With applications as exemplified by microfluidic immunoassay, aptasensor, direct analysis in real time, high resolution mass spectrometry, benchmark dose and chemical specific adjustment factor, this review presents frontier food safety analysis and risk assessment technologies, from which both food quality and public health will benefit undoubtedly in a foreseeable future.
    Rapid testing methods for food contaminants and toxicants
    Jiachi Chiou, Arthur Ho Hon Leung, Hang Wai Lee, Wing-tak Wong
    2015, 14(11): 2243-2264.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61119-4
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Food safety is one of the major concerns in every country regardless of the economic and social development. The frequent occurrence of food scandals in the world has led the Chinese government to implement several strategies to fortify the food supply system to a high food safety standard. This relies heavily on laboratory testing services but conventional methods for detection of food contaminants and toxicants are limited by sophisticated sample preparation procedures, long analysis time, large instruments and professional personnel to meet the increasing demands. In this review, we have incorporated most of the current and potential rapid detection methods for many notorious food contaminants and toxicants including microbial agents, toxic ions, pesticides, veterinary drugs and preservatives, as well as detection of genetically modified food genes and adulterated edible oil. Development of rapid, accurate, easy-to-use and affordable testing methods could urge food handlers and the public to actively screen for food contaminants and toxicants instead of passively relying on monitoring by the government examination facility. This review also provides several recommendations including how to encourage the public to engage in the food safety management system and provide optimal education and financial assistance that may improve the current Chinese food safety control system.
    Mycotoxin detection- Recent trends at global level
    Jonathan Nimal Selvaraj, ZHOU Lu, WANG Yan, ZHAO Yue-ju, XING Fu-guo, DAI Xiao-feng, LIU Yang
    2015, 14(11): 2265-2281.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61120-0
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Mycotoxin contamination in agro-food systems has been a serious concern globally during the last few decades. Mycotoxins are toxic secondary metabolites produced by fungi when they grow in agro-food products and feedstuff. Several detection techniques have been developed in recent years to detect mycotoxins in the food and feed effectively. HPLC based techniques are very common in usage in the laboratories for the testing of mycotoxins. In recent years, immuno-based assays is widely used and have been reported at large due to its sensitivity and limited detection time. Immuno assay-based kits were developed effectively to be used in the fields and in storage systems to detect the mycotoxin levels. Microarray-based immunoassays developed in the recent years could simultaneously detect aflatoxin, ochratoxin, and zearalenone with the higher sensitivity. Aptamer-based assays could target the detection of ochratoxin and aflatoxins and fumonisins at high specificity in food products. In recent years, several assays reported for the simultaneous multiple detection of different mycotoxin was based on HPLC and LC-MS/MS. There is a need for the use of these advanced technologies in the commercial scale.
    Immunoassay of chemical contaminants in milk: A review
    XU Fei, REN Kang, YANG Yu-ze, GUO Jiang-peng, MA Guang-peng, LIU Yi-ming, LU Yong-qiang, LI Xiu-bo
    2015, 14(11): 2282-2295.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61121-2
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    The detection of chemical contaminants is critical to ensure dairy safety. These contaminants include veterinary medicines, antibiotics, pesticides, heavy metals, mycotoxins, and persistent organic pollutants (POPs). Immunoassays have recently been used to detect contaminants in milk because of their simple operation, high speed, and low cost. This article describes the latest developments in the most important component of immunoassays — antibodies, and then reviews the four major substrates used for immunoassays (i.e., microplates, membranes, gels, and chips) as well as their use in the detection of milk contaminants. The paper concludes with prospects for further applications of these immunoassays.
    Methods to detect avian influenza virus for food safety surveillance
    SHI Ping, Shu Geng, LI Ting-ting, LI Yu-shui, FENG Ting, WU Hua-nan
    2015, 14(11): 2296-2308.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61122-4
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Avian influenza (AI), caused by the influenza A virus, has been a global concern for public health. AI outbreaks not only impact the poultry production, but also give rise to a risk in food safety caused by viral contamination of poultry products in the food supply chain. Distinctions in AI outbreak between strains H5N1 and H7N9 indicate that early detection of the AI virus in poultry is crucial for the effective warning and control of AI to ensure food safety. Therefore, the establishment of a poultry surveillance system for food safety by early detection is urgent and critical. In this article, methods to detect AI virus, including current methods recommended by the World Health Organization (WHO) and the World Organisation for Animal Health (Office International des Epizooties, OIE) and novel techniques not commonly used or commercialized are reviewed and evaluated for feasibility of use in the poultry surveillance system. Conventional methods usually applied for the purpose of AI diagnosis face some practical challenges to establishing a comprehensive poultry surveillance program in the poultry supply chain. Diverse development of new technologies can meet the specific requirements of AI virus detection in various stages or scenarios throughout the poultry supply chain where onsite, rapid and ultrasensitive methods are emphasized. Systematic approaches or integrated methods ought to be employed according to the application scenarios at every stage of the poultry supply chain to prevent AI outbreaks.
    Anaerobic soil disinfestation: A chemical-independent approach to pre-plant control of plant pathogens
    S L Strauss, D A Kluepfel
    2015, 14(11): 2309-2318.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61118-2
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Due to increasing regulations and restrictions, there is an urgent need to develop effective alternatives to chemical-dependent fumigation control of soilborne pests and pathogens. Anaerobic soil disinfestation (ASD) is one such alternative showing great promise for use in the control of soilborne pathogens and pests. This method involves the application of a carbon source, irrigation to field capacity, and covering the soil with a plastic tarp. While the mechanisms of ASD are not completely understood, they appear to be a combination of changes in the soil microbial community composition, production of volatile organic compounds, and the generation of lethal anaerobic conditions. The variety of materials and options for ASD application, including carbon sources, soil temperature, and plastic tarp type, influence the efficacy of pathogen suppression and disease control. Currently, both dry (e.g., rice bran) and liquid (e.g., ethanol) carbon sources are commonly used, but with different results depending on environmental conditions. While solarization is not an essential component of ASD, it can enhance efficacy. Understanding the mechanisms that mediate biological changes occurring in the soil during ASD will facilitate our ability to increase ASD efficacy while enhancing its commercial viability.
    Section 3: Risk management and standards
    Management of pesticide residues in China
    CHEN Zeng-long, DONG Feng-shou, XU Jun, LIU Xin-gang, ZHENG Yong-quan
    2015, 14(11): 2319-2327.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61110-8
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    This paper reviewed management of pesticide residues in China including laws and regulations, the supervision system, the standard system, and the quality and safety of agricultural products. The process of establishment and internationalization of standards for pesticide residues were also discussed. Results indicate that the progress of the management of pesticide residues has been steadily made in China. However, the following aspects which refer to updates to regulations, supervising efficiency, standard system, risk assessment, international cooperation and communication, should be further improved. China should draw lessons from international experience, and then establish its own management system, which focuses on pesticides controls by strictly following relevant laws and technical standards to ensure the quality and safety of agricultural products.
    Risk assessment and ranking of pesticide residues in Chinese pears
    LI Zhi-xia, NIE Ji-yun, YAN Zhen, XU Guo-feng, LI Hai-fei, KUANG Li-xue, PAN Li-gang, XIE Han-zhong, WANG Cheng, LIU Chuan-de, ZHAO Xu-bo, GUO Yong-ze
    2015, 14(11): 2328-2339.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61124-8
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    The presence of pesticide residues in pears is a serious health concern. This study presents the results from a 2-year investigation (2013–2014) that used gas chromatography, GS/MS and UPLC/MS-MS to measure the levels of 104 pesticides in 310 pear samples. In 93.2% of the samples, 43 pesticides were detected, of which the maximum residue levels (MRLs) were exceeded in 2.6% of the samples. Multiple residues (two to eight compounds) were present in 69.7% of the samples; one sample contained nine pesticides and one sample contained 10. Only 6.8% of the samples did not contain residues. To assess the health risks, the pesticide residue data have been combined with daily pear consumption data for children and adult populations. A deterministic model was used to assess the chronic and acute exposures based on the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR) method. A potential acute risk was demonstrated for children in the case of bifenthrin, which was found to be present at 105.36% of the acute reference dose (ARfD) value. The longterm exposure of the Chinese consumer to pesticide residues through the consumption of raw pears was far below the acceptable daily intake (ADI) criterion. Additionally, the matrix ranking scheme was used to classify risk subgroups of pesticides and pear samples. In general, 95.5% of samples were deemed to be safe and nine pesticides were classified as being of a relatively high risk. The findings indicated that the occurrence of pesticide residues in pears should not be considered a serious public health problem. Nevertheless, a more detailed study is required for vulnerable consumer groups, especially children. Continuous monitoring of pesticides in pears and tighter regulation of pesticide residue standards are recommended.
    Agricultural pesticide use and food safety: California’s model
    Minghua Zhang, Michael R Zeiss, Shu Geng
    2015, 14(11): 2340-2357.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61126-1
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Pesticides have been an essential part of agriculture to protect crops and livestock from pest infestations and yield reduction for many decades. Despite their usefulness, pesticides could pose potential risks to food safety and the environment as well as human health. This paper reviews the positive benefits of agricultural pesticide use as well as some potential negative impacts on the environment and food safety. In addition, using the case of California, we discuss the need for both residue monitoring and effective pest management to promote food safety. Twenty years’ pesticide residue data from California’s pesticide residue monitoring program were analyzed. Results showed that more than 95% of food samples were in compliance with US pesticide residue standards (tolerances). However, certain commodities from certain sources had high percentages of residues above tolerance levels. Even when residues above tolerance levels were detected, most were at levels well below 1 mg kg–1, and most posed negligible acute health risk. However, a few detected residues had the potential to cause health effects. Therefore, establishing an effective food residue monitoring program is important to ensure food quality throughout the marketplace.
    Pesticide food safety standards as companions to tolerances and maximum residue limits
    Carl K Winter, Elizabeth A Jara
    2015, 14(11): 2358-2364.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61117-0
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Allowable levels for pesticide residues in foods, known as tolerances in the US and as maximum residue limits (MRLs) in much of the world, are widely yet inappropriately perceived as levels of safety concern. A novel approach to develop scientifically defensible levels of safety concern is presented and an example to determine acute and chronic pesticide food safety standard (PFSS) levels for the fungicide captan on strawberries is provided. Using this approach, the chronic PFSS level for captan on strawberries was determined to be 2 000 mg kg–1 and the acute PFSS level was determined to be 250 mg kg–1. Both levels are far above the existing tolerance and MRLs that commonly range from 3 to 20 mg kg–1, and provide evidence that captan residues detected at levels greater than the tolerance or MRLs are not of acute or chronic health concern even though they represent violative residues. The benefits of developing the PFSS approach to serve as a companion to existing tolerances/MRLs include a greater understanding concerning the health significance, if any, from exposure to violative pesticide residues. In addition, the PFSS approach can be universally applied to all potential pesticide residues on all food commodities, can be modified by specific jurisdictions to take into account differences in food consumption practices, and can help prioritize food residue monitoring by identifying the pesticide/commodity combinations of the greatest potential food safety concern and guiding development of field level analytical methods to detect pesticide residues on prioritized pesticide/commodity combinations.
    Water quality, agriculture and food safety in China: Current situation, trends, interdependencies, and management
    ZHANG Xiao-nan, GUO Qiu-ping, SHEN Xiao-xue, YU Sheng-wen, QIU Guo-yu
    2015, 14(11): 2365-2379.  DOI: 10.1016/S1671-2927(00)10223
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    Water quality in China is becoming a severe challenge for agriculture and food safety, and it might also impact health of population via agriculture and food. Thus, it is causing widespread concern. Based on extensive literatures review and data mining, current situation of water pollution in China and its effects on food safety were analyzed. The 2nd National Water Resource Survey in China show that the surface water all over the country was under slight pollution and about 60% of groundwater is polluted. Drinking water quality is basically guaranteed in urban area but it is worrisome in rural areas. In addition, China is the largest consumer of fertilizer and pesticide in the world and the amounts of application still show increasing trends. Fertilizers and pesticides are the most important sources of pollution, which affect human health as persistent organic pollutants and environmental endocrine disruptors. Eutrophication of surface water and nitrate pollution of groundwater are serious threats to drinking water safety. Sewage irrigation is becoming a pollution source to China’s water and land because of lacking of effective regulations. Although, with the advance in technology and management level, control of nitrogen and phosphorus emissions and reducing water pollution is still a major challenge for China.
    Direct farm, production base, traceability and food safety in China
    DING Ji-ping, HUANG Ji-kun, JIA Xiang-ping, BAI Jun-fei, Steve Boucher, Michael Carter
    2015, 14(11): 2380-2390.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61127-3
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    With the rapid growth of China’s economy, rising demand for safety food has been accompanied by frequent food safety scandals. Given that China’s farming is dominated by millions of small-scale farms, ensuring food safety is a major challenge facing the public and private sectors. The direct farm (DF) program, initiated in 2008, represents one of the government’s major initiatives to modernize the distribution of fresh fruit and vegetables (FFV) and improve food safety. Under the DF program, participating national and international retailers are expected to establish more direct procurement relationships with farm communities. While it is often claimed that greater participation by retailers in the production and post-harvest processing implied the DF program will lead to improved quality, safety and traceability, systematic evidence remains elusive as existing studies are largely narrative, based on case studies, or theoretical inference. Little empirical evidence is available for a broader evaluation of the DF program. This paper aims to fill this gap by assessing the overall performance of a single retailer’s DF experience with respect to the procurement and food safety of FFV. We use data from a survey of production managers of 35 DF production bases (PBs) spread across 11 provinces, 3 cities and 1 autonomous region in China. The results show a mixture of opportunities and challenges. On one hand, the DF program improves production practices and distribution channels of FFV produced on its PBs, thus facilitating the move of China’s food system towards improved food safety compliance. On the other hand, significant heterogeneity in the traceability of food and the ability of DF to meet higher safety standards is evident both across major product categories and across household-operated vs. firm-operated PBs. The paper concludes with policy implications.
    Consumers’ perceptions on GM food safety in urban China
    HUANG Ji-kun, PENG Bo-wen
    2015, 14(11): 2391-2400.  DOI: 10.1016/S2095-3119(15)61125-X
    Abstract ( )   PDF in ScienceDirect  
    The debate about the safety of genetically modified (GM) food has attracted public attention in concurrence with the rapid development of agricultural biotechnology. This paper examines the consumers’ perceptions on the safety of GM food in China. Based on a unique survey dataset, this study shows that consumers in urban China have significantly changed their perceptions on GM food safety. The percentage of consumers who perceived such food as unsafe for consumption increased by more than 30% in the 2002–2012 period. Approximately half of the consumers did not have an opinion on this issue. Major shifts have been occurred after 2010, likely because of the increasing influence of negative media reports on GM technology in recent years. Several individual and household’s characteristics are shown to significantly affect consumers’ perceptions on GM food safety, such as gender, education, food allergy experience and resident city size. The paper concludes with policy implications.