11 Feb 2014
Green food: complying with China's organic requirements
|Inspections are key in the process.|
Green foods on the Chinese mainland are classified by product grade and category. In terms of product grade, there are primary products, preliminary processed products and deep processed products. In terms of product category, there are agricultural produce and their processed products, poultry and livestock, aquatic products, beverages, and others.
The current green food standards on the Mainland are drawn up on the basis of the Codex Alimentarius Commission Standard and with reference to those of developed countries. As such, they are on the whole in alignment with international standards.
Established in 1992, the China Green Food Development Center (CGFDC) under the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA) is an organisation dedicated to the development and management of green foods. The Centre has set up 42 local green food management units, 46 green food product quality inspection agencies and 72 green food environmental monitoring stations across the country.
The major functions of CGFDC include: formulating guidelines, policies and plans for the development of green food, as well as drawing up and implementing various green food standards; certifying green food in accordance with the relevant standards and carrying out green food product quality monitoring and trademark management under the Law of Agricultural Produce Quality and Safety and Trademark Law of The People’s Republic of China.
The CGFDC also organises and carries out scientific research, demonstrations, technology promotion, training, publicity, international exchanges and cooperation pertaining to green food; supervises the work of provincial-, municipal- and district-level green food management offices and organises and coordinates the monitoring green food production environment and quality inspections.
The green food logo
The green food logo is a quality certification registered by CGFDC with the Trademark Office under the State Administration for Industry and Commerce. It testifies to the unpolluted, safe and quality characteristics of green food. The logo has four forms: the green food graphic design, the characters “Green Food” in Chinese, the words “Green Food” in English, and a combination of all of the above.
The graphic design of the green food logo comprises three parts, namely, the sun on top and the leaf and bud below. Forming a full circle, it symbolises protection and safety. The whole image depicts a harmonious life embracing sunlight and calling on people to protect the environment and produce and consume quality food.
As a product quality certification trademark, the green food logo is under the protection of China’s Trademark Law and can only be used by qualified enterprises whose products have been authenticated by CGFDC.
Green food enterprises may print the green food logo, words, product code and the statement “Use of green food logo is approved by the China Green Food Development Center” on the food packaging according to the requirements set out in the Handbook of Standard Use and Design of the China Green Food Trademark and Label.
In cooperation with the industry, commerce and technical supervision departments, CGFDC protects the legal rights of green food producers, operators and consumers by regulating the green food market, cracking down on counterfeit green food and standardising the use of the logo by enterprises.
At present, the validity period for green food authentication on the Mainland is three years, which may be extended upon expiry subject to satisfactory review by the authority.
The production environment and technology for green foods
To ensure that what is supposed to be green food is pollution-free, safe, good quality and nutritious, a comprehensive series of quality standards governing the development of food are in place. These green food standards include the production environment, quality standards, production technology, product quality and hygiene standards, packaging, storage and transportation standards, and several others.
1. The production base of the products or raw materials must meet the green food ecological environment quality standard.
2. The cultivation of crops, rearing of livestock and poultry, breeding of aquatic products and food processing must follow green food production procedures.
3. Products must comply with the green food quality and hygiene standard.
4. The outer packaging of the products must meet the national food labelling standard, and conform to the specific packing, packaging and labelling requirements for green food.
Green food authentication procedure
The procedure for green food authentication is formulated on the basis of the Measures for the Administration of Green Food Logo. All enterprises meeting the Mainland’s criteria for green food production may apply for green food authentication. Offshore enterprises may contact CGFDC direct (Tel: 86-10-62122266, website: http://www.greenfood.org.cn/sites/GREENFOOD/ ).
1. Eligibility of applicant
Applicants must be corporate entities. Social groups, non-governmental organisations, government and administrative organs may not apply. All applicants are required to meet the following criteria:
1.1 Possessing the environmental and technical conditions for the production of green food;
1.2 Involve sizeable production scale, with a sound quality control system and strong ability for risk management;
1.3 For processing enterprises, they must have been in operation for over one year;
1.4 Corporate entities falling into any of the following categories may not apply for green food authentication:
(1) entities which have financial involvement or other form of interests with CGFDC or the local green food office;
(2) wholesale markets, grain depots and other centres which may cause misunderstandings and doubts among consumers over the source of the product;
(3) enterprises that are solely engaged in commercial operations (such as department stores and supermarkets).
2. Application for authentication
2.1 Applicants may obtain the Application for Use of Green Food Logo, the Questionnaire on Enterprise and Production and other relevant information from CGFDC or the closest green food office at provincial, autonomous regional or municipal level (referred to as “the local green food office”), or may download the forms from the CGFDC website at www.greenfood.org.cn.
2.2 Applicants should complete the Application for Use of Green Food Logo and the Questionnaire on Enterprise and Production and submit them to the local green food office together with the following:
(1) A written statement declaring that green food standards and regulations are implemented;
(2) Rules of production operation (rules of cultivation, aquiculture and processing);
(3) The company’s “production base + farmer” quality control system (including contract, map of production bases, list of bases and farmers, management system);
(4) A statement that product standards are implemented;
(5) The text of product registered trademark (a copy);
(6) Business registration (a copy);
(7) A quality control manual;
(8) Other material as required (such as copies of certification documents).
3. Acceptance for processing and document review
Upon receipt of the application materials, the local green food office will register and assign a number to the application and will review the authentication application documents within five working days. A Notice on Comments of Document Review will then be issued to the applicant with a copy sent to the authentication section of CGFDC.
4. On-the-spot inspection and product sampling
The local green food office should set out clearly the on-spot inspection plan in the Notice on Comments of Document Review and should appoint two or more inspectors to conduct on-spot inspection after the inspection plan has been confirmed by the applicant. The inspectors should inspect all the relevant items specified in the Working Handbook for Green Food Inspectors (trial implementation) and the Technical Standards for Investigation of Environmental Quality of Green Food Production Base (trial implementation).
On-the-spot inspection and investigation of environmental quality should be completed within five working days. An evaluation report on the inspection and an investigation report on environmental quality and other related information gathered during the investigation should then be submitted to the local green food office within another five working days.
Upon passing the on-the-spot inspection, arrangement can be made for product sampling. Applicants which can provide the product quality inspection report for the preceding year issued by the Specially-designated Green Food Product Inspection Agency, which is verified by the inspector to be in conformity with the green food product quality inspection programme and quality requirements, may be exempted from product sampling inspection. Other applicants may send the product samples, product standards, list of green food product samples and inspection fee to the specially-designated Green Food Product Inspection Agency.
5. Environmental monitoring
Investigation of the environmental quality of the green food production base is to be conducted by the inspector simultaneously with on-spot inspection. If it is ascertained by the investigation that the environmental quality of the production base meets the criteria for exemption of monitoring specified in the Technical Standards for Investigation of Environmental Quality of Green Food Production Base, the applicant will be exempted from environmental monitoring. If it is confirmed by the investigation that there is a need for environmental monitoring, the local green food office will, within two working days upon receipt of the investigation report, issue a written notice to the specially-designated Green Food Environmental Monitoring Station for launching of environmental monitoring. A copy of the notice will also be sent to the authentication section of CGFDC. The Environmental Monitoring Station will prepare an environmental monitoring report within 40 working days upon receipt of the monitoring notice. This report together with the completed Green Food Environmental Monitoring Form will be submitted directly to the authentication section of CGFDC, with copies sent to the local green food office.
6. Product inspection
Upon receipt of the product samples, product standards, list of green food product samples and inspection fee, the specially-designated Green Food Product Inspection Agency will complete the inspection and submit the product inspection report together with the duly completed Green Food Product Inspection Form to the authentication section of CGFDC. Copies of the report and form will also be sent to the local green food office.
7. Authentication review
Upon receipt of the evaluation report of the on-the-spot inspection and the investigation report of environmental quality, the local green food office will, within three working days, issue a signed recommendation which will be sent to the authentication section of CGFDC together with the application materials for authentication. The two reports and a green food authentication report prepared by the local green food office are also sent.
Upon receipt of all of the materials forwarded by the local green food office and the Questionnaire on Application for Green Food Authentication submitted directly by the applicant, the authentication section of CGFDC will register and assign a number to the case and will within two working days issue an written acknowledgment to the applicant, with copies sent to the local green food office. The reviewer at the authentication section of CGFDC and experts in related fields will review all the submitted documents and a conclusion will be drawn .
For applications which are found to be “dubious, necessitating on-the-spot inspection”, the authentication section of CGFDC will work out an on-spot inspection plan within two working days, and will notify the applicant in writing accordingly. Copies of the notification will also be sent to the local green food office. With confirmation from the applicant, inspectors will be dispatched to carry out an on-the-spot inspection again.
For applications which are found to be “incomplete, necessitating further clarification”, the authentication section of CGFDC will issue a Green Food Authentication Review Notice to the applicant, with a copy sent to the local green food office. The applicant is required to submit supplementary information to the authentication section, with copies sent to the local green food office.
For applications which are found to “pass” or “fail”, the authentication section of CGFDC will forward the authentication materials and the recommendations to the Green Food Authentication & Review Committee.
8. Final authentication review
Upon receipt of the authentication materials and recommendations from the authentication section of CGFDC, the Green Food Authentication & Review Committee will conduct a full review and make a final decision. Certificates will be issued to applicants found to have passed. For those which have failed the authentication, the secretariat of the Committee will issue a Notice of Authentication Result to them, with a copy sent to the local green food office. Further applications will not be entertained from these candidates within the same production cycle.
9. Issuance of certificate
CGFDC will send the relevant documents for the issuance of a certificate to the successful applicant, with copies sent to the local green food office. The applicant will sign the Approval Contract for Use of the Green Food Trademark Logo with CGDDC. The Director of the CGFDC will then sign and issue the certificate.
(The HKTDC provides one-on-one China Business Advisory Service free of charge to assist companies in resolving problems encountered when doing business in China. For enquiries and appointments, please call (852) 1830 668 or register online.)