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China CIQ inspection requirements for Imported food

Food imported into China has to undergo commodity inspection first before going through customs clearance. Failing the inspection, the products are not allowed to enter the country and will be returned to the consignor.

For food passing commodity inspection, customs clearance formalities and tariff payments follow, with procedures the same as for other imported goods.

To import pre-packaged foods, advance action has to be taken to prepare labelling as required by the Chinese mainland. This step plays a very important part in determining whether the food product can be imported smoothly. However, this step is often overlooked, causing a lot of problems.

I. Supervisory workflow for imported food inspection and quarantine

(A) Receipt of inspection application

1. Items requiring inspection

They include: food, food additives, food containers, packaging materials, food utensils and equipment to be imported, or food generally known as "imported food". All the above food items must apply for inspection regardless of whether they enter China by way of normal import or in other forms such as processed with supplied materials, free giveaways, consignment, duty-free items or returned export goods.

2. Preparation before import

Before the food is imported, the applicant must have ready the commercial invoice, packing list and sales contract of the food product. The applicant must also submit the following documents in compliance with China's relevant rules and regulations: approval document, health certificate, quality inspection certification, country of origin certificate, as well as certificate of use and certificate of ingredients regarding pesticides, fumigants and food additives. Attention must be given to the following special cases:

(1) Imported pre-packaged foods must come with Chinese labelling, the content of which should comply with theGeneral Standard for the Labelling of Pre-packaged Foods (GB7718-2004). Pre-packaged alcoholic beverages should comply with the General Standard for the Labelling of Pre-packaged Alcoholic Beverages (GB10344-2005), while pre-packaged foods for special dietary uses should comply with the General Standard for the Labelling of Pre-packaged Foods for Special Dietary Uses (GB13432-2004).

(2) According to the stipulations of the Measures for the Administration of Health Food, even before importing health foods, the importer or agent must make an application to the State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA), which will issue an Imported Health Food Approval Certificate to the imported health food inspectorate. Upon import, the inspection and quarantine department at the port of entry will handle the application for inspection and supervise the inspection based on this certificate. Only health foods passing the inspection will be allowed to enter the country.

(3) New resource foods imported into China for the first time must meet the same basic requirements for food importation. Before import, an application has to be made to the inspection and quarantine department and the products can only be imported after being checked, inspected and granted approval by SFDA. To apply for approval, the applicant has to submit samples of the new resource food as well as health assessment information provided by the exporting country (region), including the food product's physical and chemical properties, toxicological assessment, quality standards, production processes, efficacy, amount of use, inspection method, and relevant international standards and information.

(4) New types of additives on imported foods must comply with the stipulations of China's Measures for the Administration of Food Additives. Their approval procedures are basically similar to those for new resource foods, in other words they have to be checked and inspected by the inspection and quarantine department and approved by SFDA before import. To apply for approval, the applicant must submit samples of the food additives, health assessment information provided by the exporting country (region), approval certificate issued by the competent foreign organisation or international organisation, assessment information, and scope and amount of use of the additives. The additives can only be imported after obtaining approval.

(5) For products under China's Catalogue of Quarantine Approval for the Entry of Animals and Plants, the owner of the product must complete the quarantine approval procedures before signing the sale contract and obtaining the entry animal and plant quarantine certificate.

(6) Before or when aquatic products and meats enter China, the owner of the product must present the inspection and quarantine certificate (original copy) issued by the relevant government department of the exporting country or region.

(7) Imported meats and aquatic products from certain countries must come from foreign enterprises already registered in China.

3. Handling of application for inspection

According to the regulations governing application for inspection, the inspection and quarantine department is responsible for checking the information and qualification documents furnished by the applicant. For applications meeting requirements, they will be processed, a "customs clearance document" will be issued and the cargo will be released for the applicant to complete customs declaration and cargo delivery formalities.
Risky Food Export China Process
In China, the imported food is divided into 4 risk levels from low to high : A, B, C, D ; Different levels of supervision are adopted for foods with different risk levels;

The medium to high risky imported food categories include:Meat products, aquatic products, dairy products, sausage casings, bird nest products, bee products, egg products, edible oils and fats, oilseeds, stuffed wheaten products, edible grains, milled grain industry products and malt, fresh and dehydrated vegetables and dried beans, condiments, nuts and seeds, dried fruits, unroasted coffee beans and cocoa beans, foods for special dietary purposes, and health foods, Animal feed etc.









In addition to the above-mentioned general food import procedures, the risky imported food also need to go through other government procedures of Manufacturer Registration / Certifcation, Pre-market approval of the product etc.
The common China's government departments include :
Learn More China Pre-market Approval >>>
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