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Health CCA: Pay Attention to Food Labels to Care for Children’s Safety and Health
—— 2016-03-14 ——

Currently, food safety issues have been widely concerned by consumers. Safe and nutritionally balanced baby foods are pursued by increasingly more parents. In China, there are no concept related to “baby food” and related food standard except for the food for infants under three years old. Even food with clear labels of “child” and head image (cartoon) could only be managed based on the standards for common food. What merits our vigilance is that many foods that are “high-carbohydrate, high-calorie and high-sodium” or contain some condiments and additives are not good for children to consume in abundance and for long time. As the “International Children’s Day” is approaching, to better guide parents and children to build up scientific diet and guarantee children’s safe and healthy growth, CCA has the following considerations:

1. Food manufacturers and operators should clearly label the burden sheet of all ingredients, food nutrient contents and energy value on the outer packing or in the description to allow consumers to know and choose the food according to their own will. Relevant food enterprises should intensify quality control and service management, completely eradicate the use of banned substances and excessive use of substances with limitation requirement, and ensure food quality and safety. When it comes to the food for children, food enterprises are suggested to accurately make known the food status through label description, including but not limited to the use of raw materials, nutrition facts, energy value and sensitizer prompts. Beyond that, baby food enterprises had better label the recommended everyday edible limit per kilogram of body weight, fully guarantee consumers’ right to know and right of choice and make children enjoy safe, healthy and delicious food.

2. Competent government departments need to develop and deliver strict legal provisions and standards for baby food and guide and encourage industry enterprises to produce and develop safer and more nutritionally balanced food suitable for children. Children have high level of metabolism and not yet matured body organs, so the nutrient contents of food for children should meet their growth needs and the usage amount of substances with limitation requirement and additives should strictly meet related legal provisions and standards of the state. Harmful substances can easily produce additive effect inside children’s body and can pose risks to their health. Therefore, relevant government departments need to adopt effective measures to guide and encourage industry enterprises to produce and develop safe and nutritionally balanced baby food and provide more choices and guarantees for children’s safe consumption.

3. Schools and families should educate children to master necessary safe and healthy diet knowledge and build up good dietary habit and carefully check food packing instructions. Schools and families should also guide teenagers to consciously keep away from “unbranded and dateless product by a nameless factory” and “fake” food. Children’s everyday needs of nutrient elements mainly come from fresh vegetables, fruits, meat and eggs. Schools should take on the responsibility to pass on the knowledge about safe consumption of food in class, strengthen related caution education, teach children how to check food labels and cultivate students to build up correct food consumption views. Parents should take care of their children’s daily living, help them foster a good diet habit, remind them not buying and eating “unbranded and dateless product by a nameless factory” and “fake” food sold by stores and peddlers surrounding their schools.  

4. The entire society should put a high premium on guaranteeing baby food safety, consolidate the food safety line, promote the formation of a social shared governance mechanism for guaranteeing children’s food consumption rights and interests, and ensure children’s safe and healthy growth. Food enterprises as the first player responsible for the protection of consumers’ rights should consciously abide by legal provisions and standards related to food, carry out production, operation and advertising activities in a higher standard and stricter manner, clearly and explicitly label baby food. At the same time, the food industry and enterprises should actively accept the supervision by public opinions, assume social responsibilities and guarantee children’s safe and healthy consumption. Food law-enforcing departments should strengthen food supervision and law enforcement capacity building and improve the quality control and risk monitoring and evaluating system for baby food. Relevant food research institutions and children’s rights protection organizations should timely respond to public concerns, correctly guide public opinions, and together build a safe and worry-free food consumption environment. Children are the hope of families and the future of the country, so the entire society should enhance the protection of children’s consumption rights and safeguard their safe and healthy growth.

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