Health is at the core of human development. Food security, food safety and nutrition have a direct impact on health and social economic development. Nutrition and access to safe and suitable food contributes to the achievement of the MDGs.
There are no national surveys on breastfeeding in China using internationally accepted standards, but according to UNICEF, the rates of exclusive breastfeeding are extremely low. One study conducted in Zhejiang using UNICEF’s standard definition for exclusive breastfeeding found rates as low as 1-10 per cent. Most workplaces do not facilitate breastfeeding for working women.
Recent food related health scandals in China show that the safety of the food supply remains a major public concern. Food borne illnesses can have far-reaching effects and are often traceable to the production process. The widely publicized milk contamination scandal in 2008, in which the chemical melamine was found to contaminate milk powder and a variety of milk products, highlighted key problem areas in the national food production chain process. These included not only technical issues but also management issues and lack of corporate social responsibility along the chain of production. The incident also exposed the weak technical supervision and inspection services of governmental agencies.
The ILO has two areas of intervention in the above-mentioned programme: one is on the promotion of breastfeeding and maternity protection, working with All China Federation of Trade Unions (ACFTU); and the other on food safety in the production process, focusing in particular on products aimed at children, together with UNIDO in collaboration with General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) and the State Administration of Work Safety (SAWS).
Project objectives (Outputs 2.1 and 3.1)
The project aims at improving nutritional intake through the promotion of exclusive breastfeeding for six months and improving food safety through the introduction of international standards in production, processing, testing and preparation of food.
The project will also help selected pilot enterprises improve quality and productivity, better workplace practices and optimize their management systems in line with international standards.
Project strategy and activities
The ILO will promote the ILO Maternity Protection Convention, 2000 (No.183), assess the legal and regulatory framework for maternity protection and its implementation, share international experiences, and advocate good practices on breastfeeding and maternity protection.
The project will help build up the capacity of regulators and state inspectors to ensure compliance with national and international food safety and OSH standards. The ILO will contribute to the development of a comprehensive workplace training programme on safe production processes based on the international standards set in ILO Chemicals Convention, 1990 (No. 170) and ILO Guidelines on Occupational Safety and Health Management Systems. Training and on the spot coaching will be provided to the pilot food enterprises where managers, supervisors and workers’ representatives will actively participate and benefit.
For further information please contact:
Mr. Zhu Changyou / Ms. Huang Qun
Programme Officer / Senior Programme Assistant
ILO Country Office for China and Mongolia
Tel: + 86 10 6532 5091