China has passed its first food-safety law, and established a cabinet-level commission to oversee it. The idea is to create a national set of food-safety standards under one regulator and put more legal liability on China’s 500,000 food producers.
How effective it is and whether it will reassure consumers whose confidence has been left in tatters following a succession of scandals, notably melamine-tainted infant formula last year, remains to be seen. The lesson from food-safety regimes around the world is that it is employing the inspectors and having the political will to enforce the regulations that matters more than having the law on the books. But having the law is a start.