China’s post-pandemic food testing policy, results of the ‘Excellent Milk’ project, Haofood’s peanut plant-based innovation, and more feature in this edition of China Focus.
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China
China focus Food testing, tariff cuts, milk policy, plant-based innovation and more

China is ramping up its efforts to move past the immense impacts COVID-19 has had on the country over the past three years, including removing all requirements for nucleic acid testing on frozen food imports and reducing tariffs. Its latest move brings it in line with current World Health Organization (WHO) guidelines, and is widely considered to be part of China’s strategy to start its return to normalcy. The country is also paying renewed interest to its free trade agreement arrangements, including the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership (RCEP) ratified in 2022 under which tariffs of products from certain countries such as Indonesia will be adjusted accordingly.

China’s national ‘Excellent Milk’ project says it is on track to implement further quality and safety advances to locally produced dairy as it seeks to slash reliance on imports. The project was responsible for developing a standards system covering various quality and safety parameters, and most recently it also unveiled an Excellent Milk logo for successful dairy companies. In addition to quality and nutritional fortification studies, the project has also conducted in-depth research to improve food safety controls for dairy in China, hoping to reduce any lingering concerns due to longstanding food safety issues in the past.

The company claims peanuts are not only on par with the more conventional soy-based plant-based products, but also superior when it comes to certain nutrients such as vitamin E. Haofood has created various dishes using its peanut-based meat, such as meat skewers, which are produced by its proprietary technology. Besides taste and health attributes, a recent study by Haofood found that Chinese consumers are increasingly clean label-conscious. The firm also believes that making products in convenient formats is key to attracting consumers, particularly those from the younger generation.

The Action on Salt China (ASC) programme was launched in 2017 to implement several salt-reduction initiatives aimed at local restaurants, schools, hospitals and communities. However, in 2020, the average salt intake of China residents was 11g a day per capita, significantly higher than WHO’s recommendation of below 5g a day. The Chinese government has since set a target of a 20% reduction in salt consumption in adults by 2030 as part of its Health China 2030 initiative. A study was conducted to evaluate the one-year effectiveness of town-level comprehensive salt reduction intervention. Despite mixed results, researchers argued that reduction strategies would require several years to trickle down.

Helicobacter pylori (H. pylori​) is a bacterium in the stomach that is associated with several gastric diseases. The first line of treatment for H. pylori​ infection typically consists of eradication drugs, including antibiotics, which have been reported to cause short-term disruptions of the gut microbiota. A study found that the reduction of gut Bacteroidetes was neutralised by probiotics supplementation, indicating the ability of probiotics to maintain equilibrium of the gut microbiota ecosystem during exposure to antibiotics. The results also highlighted a need to develop high-efficacy probiotics that target multiple parts of microbiota to improve resilience of the microbial ecosystem.

Dairy farmers in the San Joaquin Valley are working to overcome the impacts of substantial flooding. Last week’s storms have left broad swaths of Tulare County under standing water.

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