Brussels will introduce tough restrictions on Chinese food exports if the country does not improve the quality of products reaching Europe, European Commissioner for Health Markos Kyprianou said today (12 September).

"There is an increasing volume of trade between China and Europe but there is also an increasing interception of products through rapid alerts and that cannot solely be explained by trade," Commissioner Kyprianou told a press conference in Beijing.

Kyprianou was talking after a meeting with Li Changjiang, minister of the country's chief quality watchdog, AQSIQ, to discuss recent problems in Chinese food and feed exports.

Kyprianou said he was "encouraged" by the Government's decision to improve food safety standards in China. However, he added: "But what is important is the actual results. We will be monitoring this through the rapid alert system."

The EU rapid alert system has recorded 45 notifications on Chinese products between 1 July and 16 August, according to officials. This is almost double those attributed to US produce, the second biggest number. China accounts for 12 per cent of all notifications, up from 7 per cent in 2000.
 
Kyprianou highlighted a fragmented control system as a weakness in China's food quality control system but said new measures to create a leadership team in this area would help.

"It's not an issue of finding the guilty parties but preventing the violation. It's this preventive work where we need to see improvement," Kyprianou said.