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Control, Coordination, and Capacity: Deficits in China’s Frontline Regulatory System for Food Safety



Has the establishment of the China Food and Drug Administration in 2013 and the substantial revision of the Food Safety Law in 2015 addressed earlier implementation deficits in China's food safety policy? Through a comprehensive literature review and series of interviews with officials from local regulatory offices in Beijing, this study observed improvements in the frontline regulatory system in regard to its adherence to regulations, corruption prevention, and citizen responsiveness. However, it also found that the system's professional capacities were vastly insufficient for its expanded regulatory scope. Frequent abuses of the citizen-complaint system added significantly to the already heavy workload. While better agency collaboration was reported at the subdistrict/township level, coordination with other related functional ministries and geographical regions remained inadequate. The findings provide an important guide for future reforms.