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Food Safety Law set to change, harsher punishments

2013-10-31 10:41 Global Times Web Editor: Li Yan

The State Council has made public the draft amendments to the Food Safety Law that seek harsher punishment for offenders and stronger oversight of food companies and local governments.

Additionally, the draft offers "innovative" supervision methods over companies and governments and encourages people's participation in increasing food safety in China.

On baby foods, the draft asks manufacturers to report raw materials, ingredients and labels of their products to food safety administrations but bars them from "contracting production to other people or repackaging original products."

Food safety has become one of the critical concerns for the Chinese people after milk powder tainted with melamine killed at least six infants and made thousands of children ill in 2008.

The use of gutter oil, made from kitchen waste, is another product that is likely to attract severe penalties. The oil contains cancer-causing substances and is often used as a cooking medium by restaurants because it is cheap.

The draft shows fines for severe food safety violations such as the use of illegal additives will be 15 to 30 times the amount involved in the misconduct, up from the current five to 10 times. The minimum compensation has also been set to 1,000 yuan ($164.10).

It stipulates that those handed jail terms for food-related offences can no longer work in the field, while the principals of food risk evaluation institutions would be sacked if their subordinates present false evaluation reports.

For online shopping platforms, the draft stipulates that the websites shall also be held responsible for the quality of their food products even if they are not the actual manufacturers.

Chinese food safety authorities have been repeatedly urged by the media and activists to enhance safety compliance standards since the 2008 scandal that outraged many.

The government has opened a dialogue with the people to discuss the changes of the draft until November 29.

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