Ensuring Effective Food Safety Regulation in China?

Executive Summary: Recently, China has come under fire for its food safety standards by both export recipients and domestic consumers. Several of China’s largest trading partners have imposed punitive bans on Chinese food products, citing quality assurance concerns. Shortcomings in food safety have also precipitated instances of domestic social unrest. Reassessing the current food safety apparatus in China is necessary to determine the most effective response to deal with this issue.

Problem Statement: Food safety concerns have negatively impacted China in three main ways. First, publicized recalls and import bans on Chinese products have damaged the credibility of the Chinese brand. Secondly, several large trading partners have imposed bans and import restrictions on food products, undermining China’s export market penetration and impeding its long term economic growth. Thirdly, food safety concerns exacerbate domestic apprehensions regarding victuals safeguards, leading to instances of social instability. Policy Options: To address the need for improved safety regulations, three policy paths should be examined:

1. Essential Status Quo: In this scenario, China would implement minor bureaucratic and regulatory reforms. On the national level, oversight and food safety inspections would be consolidated slightly from six to four. Overhaul efforts would include a funding increase, deemed ‘significant’, for more food inspectors at the local level. The new regulatory regime would put the onus of day to day responsibility onto local jurisdictions with a Federal oversight role.

2. Moderate Reform Model: In this scenario, China would implement bureaucratic consolidation of its six major food safety regulators into two. In this new model, one agency would oversee food safety for exportation and the other agency would oversee domestic food safety. These two regulating and compliance bodies would report to the newly created Minister of Food Safety.

  • (a) A consolidated civilian command-and-control apparatus would mandate quality guidelines, increase frequency of unannounced inspections, and have authority to shutdown an operation or prosecute violators. Prosecutions would be conducted in civilian courts and victims could sue for punitive damages.
  • (b) To encourage higher food safety standards, a certificate program would be implemented. The program would certify a firm’s quality assurance program.

3. Securitize – Food Security, is State Security: In this scenario, China would implement wide sweeping changes focused on securing the Chinese food supply. A consolidated, unified singular regulatory body would be created and run by a former Chinese General with logistics expertise. The head of the new regulatory body would report directly to the Ministry of Defense.

  • (a) A mandatory registration process would be implemented requiring all contributors to the food supply chain be subject to inspection and quality standards.
  • (b) Violators would be prosecuted in criminal courts. Draconian sentencing guidelines including capital punishment would go into effect. Senior managers would be subject to prosecution including sentences to hard labor reeducation camps.
  • (c) A confidential tips hotline with a monetary award would be created to elicit greater input from citizens and workers.

Critique of Policy Options: In order to analyze the policy options, a clear criterion for evaluation is necessary. The policy options must meet four basic elements including short term impact on improving food safety, enhancing Chinese brand image, supporting export market expansion and continued economic growth, and alleviating domestic apprehensions surrounding food safety.

(1) In the first policy option, maintain the status quo, the emphasis is on minor modifications including a bureaucratic reshuffle. This is the easiest and least resource consuming choice. However, this policy will fail to improve food safety. This approach would also appear as window dressing by trading partners. Also, this policy would likely lack credibility for citizens still impacted by food safety concerns. As a result, the status quo policy option fails to qualify as an effective option.

(2) In the second policy option, moderate reform model, the consolidation of regulatory oversight, the creation of a Ministry of Food Security, and the enhanced authorities’ is a stronger path to ensuring food safety effectively. Such a policy program would send a strong message to trading partners and domestic constituencies that China was serious. The certification program would stimulate renewed interest in food safety efforts. However, this approach would be time intensive to create a truly viable food safety mechanism. Any delay could have serious repercussions. Additionally, food production is not a siloed process and the two regulatory bodies would likely find themselves fighting over jurisdiction if a plant produces food products for both the domestic and export market. As such, it falls short of being the most effective choice to improve food safety.

(3) In the third policy option, securitize food safety, a major reshuffling of regulatory oversight and the creation of a food safety department reporting to the Ministry of Defense would indicate the issue’s level of importance. It would serve to bolster China’s brand image because of the severity of Chinese actions. It would send a strong message to trading partners that food safety for the export market was a priority. Elevating the matter to a state security level would alleviate fears about the government’s inability to ensure food safety. Lastly, consolidating responsibility would reduce bureaucracy and ensure stakeholders were held to account.

Recommendations: China supplies nearly 20 percent of the world’s population with food (Ref: 1a). Additionally, China exports food products to more than 200 nations around the world and 99 percent of those exports comply with the required safety standards of export nations (Ref: 1b). While the quality of Chinese food exports is high, even a one percent failure rate has serious implications for China’s food industry. As a consequence, any breakdown in the food safety supply chain can have a wide reaching and profound impact on those China feeds both domestically and abroad.

The third option is the most radical in form and nature. However, it satisfies all four criteria for effectiveness. In addition pursuing such a policy course by pulling security resources into the issue would propel the reform measures along. In turn, implementation of this policy could be achieved expeditiously. As such, China should move forward and securitize food safety.


References

1a) China’s Government’s Official Web Portal, “Hu: Food Issue Concerns World’s Development, Security”, Wednesday, July 9, 2008, Assessed on October 20, 2008, http://english.gov.cn/2008-07/09/content_1040376.htm

1b) Embassy of the Republic of China in the United States of America, “China-US Relations: Chinese Food Exports Are Safe”, June 26, 2007, Assessed on October 20, 2008, http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/zmgx/t334047.htm


Bibliography:

1) Becker, Geoffrey S. “CRS Report to Congress: Food and Agricultural Imports from China”, Congressional Research Service, September 26, 2008, Accessed on October 20, 2008, http://assets.opencrs.com/rpts/RL34080_20080926.pdf

2) Becker, Geoffrey S. “CRS Report to Congress: Food and Agricultural Imports from China”, Congressional Research Service, October 9, 2007, Accessed on October 20, 2008, https://ncseonline.org/NLE/CRSreports/07Nov/RL34080.pdf

3) Blanchard, Ben “China says food safety scares threaten stability”, Reuters News, July 9, 2007, Accessed on October 20, 2008, http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2008-09/20/content_10084798.htm

4) Bristow, Michael “China tackles tainted food crisis”. BBC News, July 10, 2007, Accessed on October 20, 2008, http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/asia-pacific/6288096.stm

5) China Daily Staff, “Draft food safety law approved”, Peoples Daily Online, November 1, 2007, Accessed on October 20, 2008, http://english.peopledaily.com.cn/90001/6294558.html

6) China’s Government’s Official Web Portal, “Hu: Food Issue Concerns World’s Development, Security”, Wednesday, July 9, 2008, Accessed on October 20, 2008, http://english.gov.cn/2008-07/09/content_1040376.htm

7) Cutler, Thomas R. “The Impact of Six Sigma on Food Quality”, International Food Safety & Quality Network, September 4, 2007, Accessed on October 20, 2008, http://www.ifsqn.com/articles_detail.php?newsdesk_id=407&osCsid=a5066c1832252393e5bc4fca51858d44&t=The+Impact+of+Six+Sigma+on+Food+Quality

8) Embassy of the Republic of China in the United States of America, “China-US Relations: Chinese Food Exports Are Safe”, June 26, 2007, Accessed on October 20, 2008, http://www.china-embassy.org/eng/zmgx/t334047.htm

9) The Associated Press, “China To Execute Chief Food Inspector”, CBS News, May 29, 2007, Accessed on October 20, 2008, http://www.cbsnews.com/stories/2007/05/29/health/main2860989.shtml

10) Xinhua News Agency, “Hu Underscores Rural Development, Food Safety”, Beijing Review, October 10, 2008, Accessed on October 20, 2008, http://www.bjreview.com.cn/special/third_plenum_17thcpc/txt/2008-10/10/content_156236.htm

11) Xinhua News Agency, “HKSAR government to introduce food safety bill”, China Org, October 15, 2008, Accessed on October 20, 2008, http://www.china.org.cn/government/local_governments/2008-10/15/content_16615817.htm

Virtual Volunteering Project

Our Virtual Volunteering Project participants will have an impact.

We will have a Virtual Volunteering Project that will allow our members to have an impact.

Benefits:
Mentorship:

  1. For those individuals who volunteer will have an opportunity to interact with some Lint Center mentors.
  2. Mentors are highly regarded individuals who have practitioner oriented experience and who are current and/or former members of the U.S. Intelligence Community. Lint Center Mentors are individuals with expertise and experience in a broad array of our country’s intelligence agencies including the Central Intelligence Agency, the Department of Energy, the Department of Homeland Security,  US State Department, and various other organizations including  the Department of Defense.

Presidential Service Award Nomination:

  1. In his 2002 State of the Union address, President George W. Bush issued a challenge to all Americans to make time to help their neighbors, communities, and Nation through service. He created the USA Freedom Corps to help all Americans answer his call to service and help foster a culture of service, citizenship, and responsibility.
  2. Hours spent on this project may be added toward a nomination for the Presidential Service Award. If nominees receive a service award, volunteers will receive 1) An official President’s Volunteer Service Award lapel pin; 2) A personalized certificate of achievement; 3) A congratulatory letter from the President of the United States; 4) A letter from the President’s Council on Service and Civic Participation, 5) A personal letter of recommendation from the Lint Center for future employers.

Overview

The Lint Center for National Security Studies, Public Affairs Office, is seeking highly-motivated volunteers. The Lint Center Public Affairs Office provides a wide range of communication services for the Lint Center and serves as the primary liaison between the Lint Center and the news media as well as the general public. The office promotes enhanced public awareness about the Center, its mission as a non-profit, its scholarship recipients, and its think tank efforts promoting the innovative ideas and counterintuitive solutions of contributing writers addressing existing counterintelligence, defense policy, and national security issues.

The Lint Center’s Public Affairs Office is seeking Volunteers and interns for positions as Public Affairs and Digital Media Interns who are creative, technologically proficient, and task oriented. The internship is unpaid but can be completed via tele-Networking or virtual communications. In turn, interns are not required to relocate and bare the financial burden of temporary dislocation. However, interns are expected to have access to the Internet and must be committed to assisting the Lint Center. (Suggested summer commitment: 100 hours for Undergraduate students and 200-300 hours for Graduate students). This page is dedicated to the Virtual Volunteering Project, opportunities with another page for Intern information.

Title:

MySpace Public Relations Coordinator

Assignment:

  • Facilitate the dissemination of information regarding the details, submission deadlines, and other vital particulars of the Center Scholarship program. Duties will include posting various Lint Center volunteer opportunities, internship programs, and scholarships on MySpace.com.
  • Research and report on coverage/mention of the Lint Center

Description
The Lint Center for National Security Studies, is seeking the support of volunteers to assist with the development as well as expansion of the Center’s MySpace account. Specifically, the Lint Center is hoping to find a motivated individual to assist in monitoring, identifying, and relaying opportunities within the MySpace community to attract additional volunteer support for enhanced community engagement. The emphasis of the effort is to connect and retain a base of virtual volunteer supporters to facilitate and improve the work of the Lint Center.
Specific areas of interest, in addition to the above mentioned areas of responsibility, include posting news, information, and details’ regarding the Lint Center’s various scholarships. Additionally, a weekly ‘coverage report’ or summary of MySpace comments pertaining to the Lint Center will be required.
 Age: 19 and older
Does this assignment involve direct interaction with clients?
No. Even so, it does provide participant with direct interaction with senior and executive level members of the Lint Center.
Volunteer Skills and Equipment Needed

  • A computer and regular access to the Internet
  • Access to MySpace,
  • Knowledge of how to search and post certain areas of MySpace,
  • Review MySpace for comments and ideas pertaining to Lint Center
  • Attention to detail, thoughtful and careful reading of stories to glean only certain articles, commitment to deadlines.

This opportunity is totally virtual (volunteer doesn’t have to be on site at the organization)
This opportunity has no expiration date (this opportunity is always available unless currently filled)

The Lint Center may request a quick telephone interview, a resume review, and/or a short writing sample.

Please provide your comments, suggestions, and ideas by using the Feedback form. This form may also be used to start the internship application process or initiate a dialogue with the Center, should you require clarification. Our aim is to provide motivated individuals with a rewarding, enriching experience and to provide Lint Center interns with the basic skill set and practitioner oriented knowledge needed to reach the next step. Please do not hesitate to contact us directly with any questions. We welcome your interest and look forward to hearing from you.

Volunteer Application

Happy New Year 2009

Happy New Year from Lint Center!

Lint Center had a great year with the award of six scholarships during two different scholarship competitions. We also created a new Ben Franklin scholarship that was awarded once in Summer 2009 and will also be awarded in Winter 2010. The Ben Franklin scholarship was funded by a new donor who has helped cover two different competitions.

Additionally, we had many scholars to mentor contacts. Our mentees are smart people and ask great questions of our mentors. The feedback from the mentors is that they enjoy the time with bright minds. The mentor program is constantly rated as one of the highest value items Lint Center has produced.

We have another scholarship competition ending 30 January 2010. Please push out the website with information to people who can put the information in front of scholars with an interest in National Security. See our available scholarships listed on our Scholarships Page. The applications can be sent in via PDF or completed online using our Online Scholarship Application Form. Past winner information can be found here. This is a great time to thank the hard-working scholarship selection committee. They wade through mounds of applications and consistently come up with high performers.

This year we awarded two of our volunteers with President’s Volunteer Service Awards. This program was started by President George Bush, Sr., and has been continued by President Obama. More information about Lint Center and this program can be found here. There is also information on how to sign up and get your hours recognized.

Additionally, Lint Center is a member of the new Disney program to award volunteers. Beginning January 1, 010, when you sign up here to volunteer a day of service with a participating organization (and your service is completed and verified), you’ll get one day admission to a Walt Disney World® or Disneyland® theme park, FREE! Lint Center is one of the approved organizations to sign up for this event. As a virtual organization, your eight hours will be cumulative to achieve that one day.

As Lint Center grows, we look for new ideas to excel and serve. Please send those ideas to me to be converted into action. Remember to push out scholarship information to scholars to increase the competition and allow us to find the best for awards and mentorship.

Jim Lint, Chairman
Special Agent (Retired)
Lint Center for National Security Studies, Inc.
IRS Approved 501(c)(3) Charity

July 2008 competition produced some excellent essays

flory

SGT Jennifer Flory, winner of Jim & Anna Hyonjoo Lint Scholarship, had an interesting idea on use of Scrap Metal for a safer Middle East which she describes in her essay. As she states it can put the power back into the hands of the people. SGT Flory has served a tour an interesting assignment in Iraq and earned a Bronze Star. Read more about SGT Flory herePress Release

linhart

Joe Linhart, winner of Virginia and Frank Misselhorn Memorial Scholarship, takes a look at Effects Based Operations in his essay.  However it is the method of engagement that can either be lethal or non-lethal in nature.  Press Release

Written as a companion piece to an article published in 02138 magazine called “My Iraq”  (http://www.02138mag.com/magazine/article/1676.html), Joe Linhart’s article “Our Army, Our America” takes a provocative look at Iraq, America and what it’s like to serve in uniform.

The former Harvard educated, Army LT also has authorized his personal essay to be published which shows how his experiences have formed his opinions on how to conduct military or diplomatic operations.

Lessons learned in recovery of classified materials

Original Published on Monmouth Message Newspaper

We have relative peace and calm here at Fort Monmouth even during wartime.

But I am often reminded about the guys in the Iran Embassy in November 1979. They thought there was no need for emergency evacuation or for emergency destruction drills. I’m sure there were many in the Pentagon in 2001 who thought the same way. But, November 4, 1979, and September 11, 2001, changed those complacent thoughts.

How is your unit and your area? Are you sure nothing will happen in your area? Are you as sure as they were in Iran and at the Pentagon? I want to share some of the lessons learned in the recovery of classified material after the 9/11 attack.

The CECOM Life Cycle Management Command (LCMC) will hold our “Annual Reduction of Classified Holdings and Review of Classified Permanent Historical Materials” from June 2 to 16. This needs to be enforced as an important effort for the command because some classified materials recovered on 9/11 at the Pentagon dated back as far as the 1940s. Reducing the amount and number of classified materials on hand decreases the risks of compromise and permits a more focused analysis of what requires protection.

Security Managers need to document the location of classified containers in their work areas. Do you know the number and locations NOW. And what happens if the Security Manager is killed, missing or absent?

Recovering and securing classified materials during or after a disaster are such specialized tasks that only trained personnel can be allowed to execute them. The role of classified materials users and custodians is to sort and advise on disposal after the materials have been recovered and secured.

Respirators, fire-retardant clothing, gas masks, safety gloves, rubber boots, portable/cellular communications, several vehicles and other special equipment must be identified in advance to enable DOD classified materials recovery to begin as soon as possible in the event of a disaster or other emergency. A mobile capability is needed at the disaster site for initial security of large recovered items, to include damaged safes.

Depending on the severity of the disaster and weather conditions afterward, most if not all of the classified materials at the disaster site may well be damaged beyond further use. That’s why custodians and users must maintain backup files and redundant capabilities of truly critical materials.

As soon as possible, such a site must be secured and access to it controlled. Badge systems will be required to enable first responders such as fire, rescue, law enforcement and other essential but un-cleared personnel to work in the secured area – and to exclude all others.

Following recovery, classified materials must be moved to a facility protected by fences, lights, intrusion detection systems and guards as required by the materials that may be involved. A plan is needed to coordinate and assist custodians and users in order to sort classified materials there. This includes the following:

  • channels for clearance, verifying need-to-know and Inadvertent Disclosure Agreements
  • provisions for personal effects mixed with classified materials
  • personal protective clothing as specialized equipment to open damaged containers
  • procedures to destroy COMSEC and other classified items in accordance with National Security Agency and Defense Intelligence Agency guidance

The coordination of security at a disaster scene may include local police; FBI; local fire, rescue and military police units; facility engineers; custodians/users of classified materials; and other DOD elements.

Safes need to be identified by serial number stamped directly in the metal, not by a tin plate bolted on their sides. During the 9/11 terrorist attack, many of the tin plates and other markings on the outsides of the safes simply melted and burned in the fire resulting from the attack. An alternative is maps drawn with the location of each safe. It has been found that, in a blast, safes can move or floors can collapse. The serial number stamped directly into the metal inside of the drawer has been the best identifier of safes after catastrophic events.

Special equipment will be required to open safes. Combination locks are destroyed in fires and the metal drawers are fused to the safe frame.

Having reviewed these elements from the after action report of 9/11 at the Pentagon, how does your office stack up? How does your unit compare to the Pentagon? Having an incident requiring emergency actions in a foreign country would create even more responsibilities and headaches. Some of our CECOM LCMC units have overseas offices. By “being prepared” we can decrease stress and improve the security of our nation!

An additional benefit of this program is preparation for Base Realignment and Closure and relocation. Having recently moved to New Jersey, I found that having more boxes to unpack is not an enjoyable event. The “Annual Reduction of Classified Holdings and Review of Classified Permanent Historical Materials” during June will improve our organization and mission execution during the BRAC move. Not often you can do an action that gives so many benefits.

So, please enjoy cleaning out those security containers because it will be beneficial in the long run. Have a “Secure” day!

James Lint