The World Bank has approved a $400 million loan to help China improve food safety management and reduce food safety risks.

The cost of foodborne diseases in terms of human capital productivity loss in China is estimated at more than $30 billion per year, almost 50 percent of the total economic burden of foodborne infections in Asia, according to the World Bank.

The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated food safety challenges in processing, packaging, and transporting agricultural products. Improvements in food safety standards are important for China’s trading partners and agricultural export competitiveness.

The China Food Safety Improvement Project will strengthen regulations, enforcement, and compliance along value chains including seafood, pork, fruit and vegetables consistent with global practices. The total cost is $735 million.

It will promote scientific and evidence-based enforcement of food safety regulations at the provincial and municipal levels using risk-based approaches.

The project will be implemented by the State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) and Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Areas (MARA) at the national and provincial levels. Food safety enforcement and supervision will be supported in Guangdong and Shandong provinces.

Global benefits
Work will assist farms and businesses to improve compliance with food safety regulations, achieve certification standards and access finance for food safety technologies.

“By taking an integrated and risk-based approach, consistent with global good practices, this project can help China mitigate the public health risks and reduce the economic and environmental costs associated with unsafe food production, processing and trading practices. Because China is a major food exporter and a hotspot for the emergence of foodborne diseases, the project carries important global benefits,” said Martin Raiser, World Bank country director for China.

Risk communication campaigns will be organized to promote food safety and healthier lifestyles, complementing regulatory improvements and strengthened enforcement with measures to support the demand for healthy food and encourage better compliance.

About 7,500 family farms, cooperatives, SMEs, and large enterprises in the agriculture and food sector will be helped by the effort to better manage food safety risks.

The hope is it will benefit about 600,000 households in Foshan, Guangzhou, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing municipalities in Guangdong province and Yantai municipality in Shandong province. About 3 million residents in these areas are expected to be reached through food safety risk communication campaigns.

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