Food Safety Regulatory Enforcement in China: A Data-Driven Approach

35 Pages Posted: 29 Aug 2020

See all articles by Qihua Gao

Qihua Gao

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Yasheng Huang

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Qiao Liang

Zhejiang University - China Academy for Rural Development

Yuze Sui

Stanford University

Yanchong Zheng

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management

Date Written: July 22, 2020

Abstract

Government regulations have a substantial impact on food safety, both within China and elsewhere in the world. But regulatory research is hampered by a lack of systematic data. Much of the extant regulatory research is based on interpretations of government policy and regulatory announcements. At best, qualitative analysis indicates policy and regulatory intent, not enforcement, and it lacks precision and specificity. Using natural language processing (NLP), this study creates quantitative indicators of food regulatory enforcement by the Chinese government based on the conversion of 28,000 free-form criminal-court case texts. We focus on two main Chinese regulatory agencies, the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) and the Ministry of Agriculture (MOA). Our quantitative analysis reveals substantial differences in the regulatory functions of these two agencies. The CFDA has been far more proactive than the MOA in uncovering food-safety problems — a function we call a “lead function” — whereas the MOA has been mainly involved in providing evidence and data — a function we call a “supporting function.” To our knowledge, this article is the first to quantitatively map the Chinese government’s regulatory functions in the food industry at such a granular level. The policy implications of our findings are drawn from two contextual factors. First, a large number of China’s food-safety problems occur in the upstream sector — the sector over which the MOA exercises regulatory authority. Second, the Chinese government’s regulatory regime has mainly focused on the CFDA rather than the MOA. These findings suggest a pressing need for the MOA to undertake more lead functions.

Keywords: food safety, China, regulatory enforcement, court cases, data-driven, government reform

Suggested Citation

Gao, Qihua and Huang, Yasheng and Liang, Qiao and Sui, Yuze and Zheng, Yanchong, Food Safety Regulatory Enforcement in China: A Data-Driven Approach (July 22, 2020). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=3658748 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.3658748

Qihua Gao

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

100 Main Street
E62-416
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States
7654215221 (Phone)

Yasheng Huang (Contact Author)

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

100 Main Street
E62-416
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

Qiao Liang

Zhejiang University - China Academy for Rural Development ( email )

Qizhen Building, Zijingang Campus,ZJU
Hangzhou, Zhejiang 310058
China

Yuze Sui

Stanford University ( email )

Stanford, CA 94305
United States
8578004181 (Phone)

Yanchong Zheng

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) - Sloan School of Management ( email )

100 Main Street
E62-416
Cambridge, MA 02142
United States

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