China mulls law to ensure food safety

Updated: 2007-12-26 20:02

China is considering a law to ensure food safety and prevent food-born diseases amid increasing safety concerns.

The draft law on food safety was submitted to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress (NPC), the country's top legislature, for first reading on Wednesday.

China currently has a food hygiene law to regulate issues of food safety but many lawmakers said it didn't meet the need of practice.

The draft, based on the food hygiene law, imposed strict examinations on food imports and exports.

It stated "imported food should be in accordance with the national food safety standards and labeling system. Exported food should meet the requirements of destination countries and pass the examination of inspection and quarantine institutions of foreign countries".

The draft proposed a food safety risk evaluation mechanism, providing a "key basis" for constituting food safety standards and food-born disease control measures.

A related supervision system, covering food production, processing, delivery, storage and sales, should be set up to ensure every procedure is under control.

It said national food safety standards should be constituted by departments authorized by the State Council.

It also stipulated a labeling system requiring food manufacturers to be responsible for statements about ingredients, additives, expiration dates and functions on user manuals and packages.

The draft law also called to establish a recall system to urge food producers and dealers to stop producing, selling and to recall unsafe food if problems are found.

"Food called back should be destroyed or undergo harmless treatment," it said.

The draft proposed a national food safety information release system.

Food safety warning, food safety incidence and other information that may cause the public to panic should be released by departments authorized by the State Council, it read.

"The information release should be accurate, objective and in time.Explanations on harm caused by unsafe food should be made public," it said.

Food producers and dealers, which make or sell the meat of animals that died of disease, poison or unspecific reasons, food with banned ingredients, and baby food with substandard materials, would be severely punished, according to the draft.

Officials of food safety supervision departments would also face severe penalty if found to abuse or dereliction of duty, it said.

The 31st session of the 10th NPC Standing Committee started on Sunday and ran until Saturday.

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