(Yicai Global) Nov. 9 -- China’s top health authority issued new guidelines today that require companies to carry out preventive and comprehensive disinfection of transport vehicles and packaging materials used for imported cold chain foods.
The National Health Commission also set out detailed provisions on the responsibilities of customs, transportation, health, market supervision, and local governments for epidemic prevention.
The stated aim of the guidelines is to prevent unsterilized imports of cold chain foodstuffs from entering the market, preventing the risk of coronavirus being brought into the country through such channels.
The document said that the inner walls of imported cold-chain food containers as well as the inner and outer packaging of products need to be disinfected, with records kept for at least two years. Imported products with positive test results must be returned or destroyed under the regulations.
But the guidelines also stated that for imported frozen foods, the whole industry chain only needs to be thoroughly disinfected once as a precautionary measure, and repeated sterilizations should in principle be avoided.
Market operators, producers and sellers of imported cold chain foods need to provide a disinfection certificate from qualified institutions. Produce without certification cannot be sold, according to the guidelines.
The guidelines also require market regulators to strengthen the traceability management of imported cold-chain foods by food production and operation business, and to investigate and punish those involved with foods of unknown origin in accordance with the law.
Though the coronavirus is basically under control in China, new cases of infection from imported cold chain foods have shown up in recent months, infecting those who came into close contact. The latest example was a loader working for a frozen food business in the northern port city of Tianjin, who tested positive for Covid-19 on Nov. 7.
In the context of the high number of new Covid-19 cases overseas, imported frozen foods have become a potential source of risk for reigniting the epidemic in China.
Editor: Peter Thomas