by Alessandra Cardone
ROME, June 13 (Xinhua) -- Boosting legislative coordination on food safety is key to both protect public health and ensure a sustainable development, Italian and Chinese officials said at a conference here on Tuesday.
Organized by Rome's LUISS University in cooperation with the Chinese Embassy, the event drew high-profile officials and experts to discuss the best ways to improve food safety, protect culinary excellences in both countries, and fight counterfeit food.
Both claiming a long cuisine history and seeing food traditions as a key part of their cultural heritage, Italy and China "share the common goal to achieve greater legislative alignment to protect food excellences," LUISS Rector Paola Severino said in her opening address.
"Agrifood quality is a form of protection of public interest, and providing a legislation that defends the agribusiness industry means keeping citizens safe," the scholar stressed.
Chinese Ambassador to Italy Li Ruiyu said at the meeting that food quality and safety are growingly important for the Chinese people, and the authorities have focused on improving control over the entire production chain.
In fact, China amended its legislation, and provided a new and stricter Food Safety Law in 2015. "Now, we can say China has one of the most severe laws in terms of food protection," professor Lu Jianping, dean of the Beijing Normal University School of Law, told Xinhua on the sidelines of the event."It takes care of the whole (production) process, thus providing a total-control regime from the farm to the table," he said.
Considering the global economy, however, national efforts require coordination and integration, according to the Chinese ambassador.
"As the life of people is improving globally, there is a greater need for food safety systems," he said. "Within the European Union (EU), for example, Italy has always played a leading role in this perspective," he added.
Indeed, food quality and culinary traditions are core values for Italy, which would strongly need to further boost the fight against food fraud, according to officials.
The food and wine industry is Italy's second largest manufacturing sector, which registered a turnout of about 135 billion euros (151 billion U.S. dollars) in 2015. Counterfeiting Italian foods on international markets in the same year were estimated at over 60 billion euros (67 billion U.S. dollars), according to a research by Italy's largest farmer association Coldiretti.
Hence, Italy's interest in coordinating different food legislations is high."I do hope the partnership with China could effectively move further forward," Italian Agriculture Minister Maurizio Martina said.
"We need a mutual recognition of the (national) quality systems, and our agribusiness industries must be more and more sustainable at environmental, economic, and social levels," he added.