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Business / Policy Watch

China beefs up Food Safety Law

(Xinhua) Updated: 2015-04-25 16:05

BEIJING - The Standing Committee of China's National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, adopted an amendment to the 2009 Food Safety Law on Friday with the heaviest penalties yet for offenders.

With 154 articles, compared with 104 in the original law, the revamped Food Safety Law adds new articles and provisions on baby formula and online shopping.

Chinese people have been shocked by many food safety scandals in recent years, including injecting clenbuterol into pork, recycled cooking oil, selling pork from sick pigs, medicines made with toxic gelatin and passing off rat and fox meat as fit for human consumption.

The revised law gives heavier punishment to offenders, increasing the cost for violating the legislation, said Huang Wei with the Commisison for Legislative Affairs of the NPC Standing Committee.

The new law will go into effect on Oct 1.

Stiffer penalties

The revised law brings harsher civil, administrative and criminal penalties for offenders and their supervisors.

The amendment introduces administrative detention for offenders. Those who add inedible substances to food could find themselves behind bars for up to 15 days. Administrative detention normally refers to that imposed by police without court proceedings. This has been considered tough as other punishments stipulated in the Food Safety Law generally involves fines and revocation of certificates.

Buyers also get better protection. Consumers can demand reparation of three times any loss they suffer from substandard food. Previously, only compensation of 10 times the price of the food was allowed. Substandard food can be very cheap and can cause very serious problems with consequential losses, hence the new rule guarantees that consumers can get higher compensation.

Bigger fines for offenders are also on the menu. Producers may face fines of up to 30 times the value of their products, up from 10 times. If the products are worth less than 10,000 yuan (1,630 U.S. dollars), the fined can be up to 150,000 yuan, three times the previous amount.

The amendment adds provisions for landlords of production sites who turn a blind eye to illegal activities on the premises, and suppliers who sell unlawful substances to producers, knowing that they will be added to foods. Their revenue can be seized and they can be fined up to 200,000 yuan.

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