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Food safety violators face higher fines

2013-06-18 11:02 Global Times Web Editor: Wang Fan

Shanghai's courts will impose higher fines on those found guilty of food safety crimes, Shanghai Higher People's Court said Monday.

The city's courts implemented the tougher sentences to comply with judicial interpretations handed down in May by China's Supreme People's Court and Supreme People's Procuratorate.

The interpretations increased the maximum fine and removed the cap on fines for food safety crimes. The cap had been set at twice the revenue that the violator earned from the products involved in the case, according to Shanghai Higher People's Court.

"The change aims to stop criminals from continually violating the law in an effort to ensure food safety and better protect people's lives," said Zou Bihua, vice president of the Shanghai Higher People's Court.

The two major types of food safety crimes are manufacturing or selling food that fails to meet safety standards and producing or selling food that contains hazardous or toxic substances, according to China's Criminal Law.

Besides these two crimes, violators are often involved in producing counterfeit products or infringing on intellectual property rights, Zou said.

"When there is a single case involving several charges, as it often happens, the interpretations clarify that the suspects should be charged with the crime that carries the most serious punishment," he told the Global Times.

The interpretations also stipulate that criminal charges can be handed down to those involved in the processing, transportation, storage, or other related activities in a food safety case.

The interpretations also set stricter guidelines regarding probation sentences and forbid people on probation from working in the food business, Zou added.

Since 2010, the city's courts have handled 68 criminal cases about food safety, involving 150 people, according to Shanghai Higher People's Court. About 48 percent of the cases involved small food manufacturers in suburban districts.

Despite the courts' efforts, Zou said that the judicial system cannot tackle the food safety problem on its own.

"By the time these cases reach the courts, the damage has often already been done," he said. "The problem ultimately requires different government departments to work together on a comprehensive solution."

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