context: Inter-agency coordination is critical to building effective traceability systems covering multiple links of an industry chain. Following a set of State Council Opinions on food safety, this document clarifies responsibilities of multiple agencies and calls for better coordination on legislation, regulation, information sharing and investment.

Ministry of Commerce (MofCOM), Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) and five other central agencies released ‘Opinions on building a traceability system for meat, vegetables, traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) and other key products via inter-agency coordination’ aimed at strengthening supervision, ensuring public safety and upgrading consumption.

The Opinions highlight coordination in key fields including

  • working systems and responsibilities
    • Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Affairs (MARA): ag product traceability covering on-farm activity and links before products enter the market or processing companies
    • MIIT: traceability for infant formula products
    • State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR): food safety traceability, supervision of food producers and operators
    • State Administration of Traditional Chinese Medicine (SATCM): traceability for TCM products
    • National Medical Products Administration (NMPA): traceability for medical products
    • MofCOM: adjusting the catalogue of traced products, building traceability pilots
  • traceability information platforms
    • MARA, SAMR, NMPA to build traceability systems for ag products, food and medical products respectively and gradually integrate them into the national key products traceability system
    • MofCOM to build a unified national key product traceability system at central, provincial and city levels (including some counties)
  • applying traceability
    • using traceability information to guide work on market access, product recalls, market monitoring and intervention, building a market entity credit system, and industry management
  • traceability system investment and operation
    • government investment in building a public traceability service platform
    • local governments encouraged to build stable investment mechanisms with market participation
  • legislation and regulation
    • overall legislation led by MofCOM
    • introduction of national, industrial and local standards on key products
  • policy agenda
    • including traceability as an indicator in product certification processes
    • prioritising traceable products in government procurement
    • including traceability in regional coordinated development strategies