Business / Policy Watch

China beefs up Food Safety Law

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

Administrative penalties, such as demotion and dismissal, will be imposed on officials with food and drug regulators who fail in their duty to protect the public or connive in cover-ups. Similar punishments will be dished out to officials in health and agriculture departments. Abuse of power and neglect of duty for personal gain may precipitate criminal penalties.

Baby formula

Infant milk formula will be heavily regulated to restore public confidence in the domestic dairy industry.

Producers will be required to register powdered baby milk formula with the food and drug regulator. Earlier provisions stipulated that firms only needed to ensure their formulas were on record.

There are more than 1,900 varieties of baby formula available in China. Each company has around 20 varieties. In other countries, firms produce and sell only two or three.

"Some producers are creating new formulas purely for the sake of marketing," according to the Food and Drug Administration.

In 2008, infant formula produced by the Sanlu Group, a leading dairy firm in north China, was found to contain melamine. Six babies died and thousands fell ill. As a result, the first Food Safety Law was enacted in 2009 but public confidence in domestic baby formula has not recovered. Instead, consumers have demanded baby formula from countries like Australia, New Zealand and Germany, which now have strict export quotas for China.

Producers will now have to test every batch of their product, conduct regular internal inspections and submit reports to regulators.

Online shopping

Online shopping has become part of daily life in China. Food producers are expanding their business to instant messaging services like WeChat.

China's online retail sales totaled 1.85 trillion yuan in 2013, with food eating up 32.4 billion, and problems concerning food safety have emerged. To keep up, the amendment adds new articles on online shopping, clarifying the liabilities of shopping platforms. They are required to register the real identity of vendors and check their certificates. The platforms will have to compensate consumers if they cannot provide the identity, address and contact details of retailers.

They should also report malpractice to the government and deny access to delinquent retailers.

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