Governing China’s food quality through transparency: A review

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67 Citations (Scopus)


In coping with food quality problems, China relies heavily on state institutions, such as laws and regulations, governmental standards and certification, and inspections and enforcement. Recently, transparency (or information disclosure) has been introduced in China’s governance framework to cope with its growing food quality and related sustainability problems. This article investigates to what extent and how China’s transparency institutions and practices regarding food production and products play a role in governing food quality and safety. Four forms of food chain transparency are distinguished and assessed: management transparency, regulatory transparency, consumer transparency and public transparency. It is concluded that in China food chain transparency is still in its infancy with respect to governing domestic food production and product quality and safety, and that only with respect to global (export) food chains transparency and accountability put some pressure on agro-food chain actors to improve their performance with respect to food quality and sustainability. By the same token furthering transparency on food quality is desperately needed as the state’s food management and control system alone proves not capable to provide safe food that is credible and trusted by domestic consumers.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)49-56
JournalFood Control
Publication statusPublished - 2014


  • environmental governance
  • information age
  • safe food
  • consumers
  • systems
  • trust
  • perceptions
  • incidents
  • risks


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