China strengthened its regulations for imported dairy products Wednesday, a move intended to increase their quality and protect consumer safety amid increasing domestic demand for foreign milk formula.
According to the new regulations approved by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), imported dairy products need to come with official certificates that the milk was sourced from healthy animals and cannot cause disease.
For products that are tagged with foreign awards or accreditation by foreign agencies, the importers must provide official documentation from related embassies to ensure the credibility of these awards, the regulations said.
Any imported dairy product that fails to meet safety, health or environmental standards must also be destroyed within three months or returned to its country of origin.
Chinese consumers have been buying more imported milk formula despite its higher prices since a scandal over melamine-tainted milk powder in 2008.
But some imported dairy products have also been exposed as having quality problems in recent years.
In the first nine months of 2012, 140 tons of imported milk powder in China - half of which was baby milk - was found by the AQSIQ to contain excessive chemical residues or to be past its sell-by date.
"The new regulations might boost prices in the short term, as some smaller importers that fail to meet the standards will be washed out of the market, which will affect the supply of imported dairy products," Song Liang, an industry analyst at the Distribution Productivity Promotion Center of China Commerce, told the Global Times Wednesday.