At a recent seminar in Danish Dairy Technology Society General Manager for Eurofins-Steins Laboratory in Denmark, Svend Aage Linde gave a presentation “When ISO and IDF methods do not suffice….” – with the subtitle “Demanded documentation to milk based products exported to China.”
In his presentation Svend Aage Linde made clear that the Chinese GB standards, prepared by Standardization Administration of China are the ones used by Chinese authorities for controlling food, including milk products, imported to China. Today a very large number of GB standards exist for all kinds of products and for analyses of all kinds of parameters in food. And new standards and updates of older ones frequently arrives! If a Chinese GB standard exists, this is the one to be used! Even if it is not specifically prepared for the milk product in question but for food in general. International reference methods are only acceptable if no Chinese standard for the parameter in question exists.
The good news is that for most parameters and products the Chinese GB standards give the same or similar results than do the international reference methods from ISO, IDF and EN. However, the bad news is that this is not always the case, – and sometimes the GB method gives comparable results on a parameter for most products, – but not for all products! According to Svend Aage Linde, in a general comparison of the GB methods with ISO and IDF methods some GB methods seems smarter than the international methods, most are quite similar, quite some are more tedious and resource demanding whereas a few simply seems not working!
Eurofins has established laboratories in China and are able to handle the Chinese GB methods. So an obvious solution could be to send samples to this lab to test a product before shipping the entire batch to China. However, doing so the challenge is to, quickly and reliably, get samples through the Chinese customs! After trying out different solutions, Eurofins has concluded that this, at present, is not a good solution!
Svend Aage Linde does not foresee that international reference methods will become standard in China in the near future. The Chinese GB methods are constantly being updated and improved so it may be relevant for companies with a significant export of food, including dairy products, to have an eye on the Chinese standard methods too! And to be aware that even though a product fulfill demands according the internationally recognized reference methods this may not be sufficient for the Chinese authorities!

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Sources: Tove Asmussen, Raw Milk Connect