By Ching-Fu Lin
China’s highest executive organ, the State Council, put out the Food and Nutrition Development Outline 2014-2020 (the Outline) in February of 2014. The Outline was jointly drafted by China’s Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) and National Health and Family Planning Commission. The Ministry of Finance, Ministry of Education, Ministry of Commerce, Ministry of Science and Technology, and National Development and Reform Commission also participated in its development. Based on a review of China’s growth and problems in food and nutrition, the Outline sets a seven-year plan that highlights basic policy objectives. The areas of focus are food supply systems, nutrition intake and balance (especially amongst population sub-groups), regulatory and surveillance mechanisms, industry development, research, and education.
The Outline lays out its “guiding strategy” that the government should regard the effective supply of food, balanced nutritional profile, and production-consumption coordination as its chief missions. To execute these missions, the government identifies certain key products (quality agricultural products, convenient processed foods, and dairy and soy foods), key areas (poor, rural, and newly urbanized areas), and key population groups (the pregnant women and nursing mothers, infants and children, and the elderly) as starting points to promote better food and nutrition development patterns. Such points are further elaborated in the document. The guiding strategy ultimately aims to improve public health and a well-off society.
The Outline also stipulates several “basic principles,” which include the equal emphasis on both the quantity and quality of food, a food security strategy supported by market mechanisms, food safety and technology, modernization of the food industry, promotion of production and consumption, balance between dietary tradition and innovation, and an approach based on both intervention and guidance. The Outline also encourages the government to guarantee adequate energy and protein intake, control fat intake, and maintain an appropriate level of vitamins and minerals intake. A set of specific developmental goals is provided – including a nutrition intake profile in the year 2020 (2,200-2,300 Kcal, grain intake represents over 50% of overall intake, fat intake less than 30%, daily protein intake 78 grams and 45% of which should be high quality protein) and a targeted reduction of various nutrition-related illnesses (such as anemia and obesity) in different population groups. With respect to the development of food industry, the Outline asks the government to accelerate a number of well-reputed medium-to-large-sized food processing and distribution companies in the supply chain. A reasonably structured and strategically competitive system of modern food processing industry is especially desirable. The outline also expects the food industry’s average growth rate to be over 10% per year.
With regard to China’s food safety problem, the Outline specifies a need for establishing a farm-to-fork regulatory system, which was not previously adopted by the 2009 Food Safety Law. The responsibilities of industry actors and local governments for ensuring food safety are also mentioned in the Outline. Other goals include increasing penalties to corporations for violations, promoting corporate social responsibility, strengthening food safety information sharing, establishing rapid response mechanisms, advancing food and nutrition technology development, investing in risk analysis research, fostering food safety surveillance and alter techniques.
Finally, the Outline calls for an inter-agency coordination mechanism that puts together the above-mentioned ministries and other responsible departments so as to effectively and efficiently implement its developmental blueprint and missions.