China faces a global challenge to maintain consumer confidence in its products following a series of health scares, a senior EU official said yesterday, adding that Beijing must be more cooperative.
China should provide more samples of bird flu viruses found in the country, as well as samples of genetically modified (GM) produce, to better help the bloc protect its own citizens, EU Director-General for Health and Consumer Protection Robert Madelin said.
"The challenge for China is to maintain global confidence in its products, and the way to do that is for the regulatory authorities to be very open and very cooperative," he told a news conference in Beijing.
"[This] is exactly what we have been suggesting in areas like GM, to share samples, so that the enforcers in Europe feel like we're getting good cooperation," Madelin said.
In the most recent scandal, US consumers have been alarmed by a spate of pet deaths blamed on tainted wheat gluten and rice protein exported from China, as well as reports of toxins and disease in other Chinese exports.
A Chinese-made medicinal ingredient has also killed at least 100 people in Panama, a New York Times report said.
China has not approved commercial growing of GM rice, but some environmental groups have said it has already made its way into the food chain.
In response, China said yesterday it was willing to work with the world community on improving food security as it responded to growing concerns about the safety of edible Chinese exports.
"The Chinese government attaches great importance to the security and safety of food ... We have conducted efforts to set straight the order of the market," foreign ministry spokeswoman Jiang Yu (姜瑜) told reporters. "We stand ready to work with the international community and to explore international cooperation on food security."
China was already involved in cooperation with the US, the EU, Japan and South Korea on strengthening food security, she said.
Jiang also said China was looking into unspecified individual cases and would release the results of these investigations to the public.
US media reported on Sunday that China was the top violator of US food safety standards, with US authorities last month rejecting 257 Chinese food shipments -- far more than from any other country.