World Bank approved a loan of US$400 million for the China Food Safety Improvement Project

New Delhi: The World Bank’s Board of Executive Directors today approved a loan of US$400 million for the China Food Safety Improvement Project to help China improve food safety management at both the national and targeted subnational levels, and reduce food safety risks in selected value chains.

China bears a considerable share of the global health and economic burden of consuming unsafe food. The cost of foodborne diseases in terms of human capital productivity loss in China is estimated at over US$30 billion per year, almost 50 percent of the total economic burden of foodborne diseases in Asia.

The COVID-19 pandemic has further exacerbated food safety challenges, notably in processing, packaging, and transporting agricultural products. In addition, improvements in food safety standards are important for China’s trading partners and its agricultural export competitiveness. Improving food safety in China would also reduce food loss and waste and generate large climate co-benefits.

“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,” said Martin Raiser, World Bank Country Director for China. “Because China is a major food exporter and a hotspot for the emergence of food-borne diseases, the project carries important global benefits.”

The project will strengthen food safety regulations, enforcement, and compliance along selected value chains – including those for seafood, pork, fruit and vegetables – consistent with global practices. 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 assist farms and food enterprises to improve compliance with food safety regulations and achieve food safety certification standards by (i) promoting good agriculture practices, including in relation to safety, climate smartness and environmental sustainability; (ii) encouraging use of biodegradable plastic mulch, eco-friendly food packaging, and plastics recycling; (iii) upgrading public infrastructure for improved water quality and waste management, point source pollution control, and reduced biohazards in agriculture markets; and (iv) ensuring risk-based preventive controls for maintaining safe food environment from ‘farm to plate’.

The project will also help farms and food enterprises to access finance for food safety technologies, an area where credit has been limited. Risk communication campaigns will be organized to promote food safety and advocate for healthier lifestyles, complementing regulatory improvements and strengthened enforcement with measures to support the demand for healthy food and encourage better compliance. Besides contributing to food safety, the project will also reduce food loss and waste and generate large climate co-benefits.

The project will be implemented by the State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) and the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Areas (MARA) at the national level and provincial levels. Food safety enforcement and supervision will be supported in Guangdong and Shandong provinces by integrating local standards and regulations covering ‘farm to plate’ in specific value chains in selected municipalities and aligning them with national regulations.

About 7,500 family farms, cooperatives, SMEs, and large enterprises in the agriculture and food sector will be supported by the project to better manage food safety risks and run sustainable businesses. It will also directly benefit about 600,000 consumer households in the project areas in Foshan, Guangzhou, Huizhou, Jiangmen and Zhaoqing municipalities in Guangdong province and Yantai municipality in Shandong province. About 3 million residents in these municipalities are expected to be reached through the food safety risks communication campaigns.