China needs better food safety laws, the United Nations said in a report released Wednesday.
It said there is a need for education and training of stakeholders, the food industry and enforcement agencies, to bring the country in line with international norms.
The report comes in the wake of the country's dairy products scandal, and a day before the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress is to review a draft law on food safety.
The report, Advancing Food Safety in China, gives an in-depth analysis of the situation in the country and recommendations for improvement.
It calls for tighter management, inspection, enforcement, monitoring and communication.
The report said China has for many years paid close attention to the safety of food it produces and exports, which has resulted in improvements year by year.
"Food safety systems, however, are a work in progress, no matter what country you are talking about," Jorgen Schlundt, director of the WHO's department of food safety, zoonoses and food-borne diseases, said in Beijing.
"But there are certainly key areas where China can focus on improvements."
Last month, infant formula and other milk products were found to contain the chemical melamine, which causes kidney problems.
The chemical has so far been blamed for the deaths of four infants and sickening more than 54,000 children on the mainland.
"The recent food safety incident is an example of what can go wrong, even within a system that has started to work on improvements," Schlundt said.
"Our recommendations address many of the problems China has already acknowledged."
The UN resident coordinator in China, Khalid Malik, said: "As in other countries, food safety involves a broad range of stakeholders both at home and abroad. Improving the system requires a truly multi-sectoral and multilateral response.
"The UN has broad experience working with China on this topic, and we will continue to offer our support and expertise."