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Capacity to report on food safety enhanced in China


Over one hundred Chinese local journalists have strengthened their skills to professionally report about food safety and food security issues thanks to a capacity building activity that was part of a recently-concluded three-year project on “Improving Nutrition, Food Safety and Food Security for China’s Most Vulnerable Women and Children”.

The project has been supported by the MDG-Fund and developed in the aftermath of major food safety incidents, such as the poisoning of milk infant formula adulterated with melamine, which reportedly caused 54,000 children sick (source: WHO).

An assessment has shown that in the months following the reporters’ training, the coverage of food safety and security issues by the targeted provincial radio and television outlets in the pilot counties has increased by 49 per cent. Journalists involved said that they have not only acquired more awareness and background knowledge on food-related issues, but also increased their professional ability to verify, investigate and double-check facts and sources. Some of the beneficiaries of the project express their opinions in the reportage “Travelling to the Huize and Wuding Counties”.

The project’s component targeting media professionals has been implemented in the past two years by the UNESCO Beijing Office, together with the Training Centre of State Administration of Radio, Film and Television (SARFT). The training handbook, Professional Reporting on Food Safety and Child Nutrition Issues in China, has been presented last April at the project’s final wrap-up event, which was attended by more than two hundred representatives from United Nations (UN), national and local partners.

During this final event, the Vice Minister of Health and Family Planning, Mr Chen Xiaohong, said that the Chinese authorities recognize that food safety and security are serious challenges, and welcome international cooperation and technical assistance to support policies in this field. The UN Resident Coordinator in China, Ms Renata Dessalien, stressed that food security and safety are complex sustainable development issues, which are not only linked with the health and wellbeing of all individuals, but also relate to environment, industry, employment, water and land resources, as well as to other areas. “Resolving food safety and security is an absolutely essential element of sustainable development, which requires cross-ministerial and cross-thematic collaboration,” she said.

UNESCO has joined other seven UN agencies and ten Chinese national agencies in the implementation of this project aiming at improving nutrition, food safety and food security in six of China’s poorest counties: Pan and Zheng’an (Guizhou Province); Huize and Wuding (Yunnan Province); Luonan and Zhen’an (Shaanxi Province). Activities by the UN Country Team in China have ranged from contributing to the legal framework for food safety, to the promotion of good practices in increasing food safety and nutrition in schools, hospitals, and increasing the quality standards of food producing industries. For more details, watch the multimedia presentation, “Eat Well, Grow Well”, and read the article on the UNESCO Beijing Offcie website.