China is not alone in requiring improvements to its food safety system, the World Health Organisation (WHO) safety chief said in Beijing today (12 September).

Speaking at an international food safety conference organised by China’s quality watchdog, AQSIQ, Jorgen Schlundt, director of the department of food safety, zoonoses and foodborne diseases at the WHO, defended China’s record in food safety, which has come under attack in recent months.

“Food nowhere in the world is safe. All countries need to improve their food safety systems,” he said.

Schlundt recognised that China’s food safety system had been “incoherent” and “outdated” but noted that the Government has worked with the WHO in the last five years to update it.

He added that the WHO is “very happy to see the high level of support in the Chinese government for this improvement”. Beijing is co-operating on new networks to share information about food safety incidents with other countries. The country has also hosted two Codex committees this year, demonstrating, it hopes, a commitment to food safety issues.

China exported 24m tons of food to more than 200 countries during 2006. This year it has been blamed for contaminated petfood, seafood and other agricultural products.