China drafts strict food safety law, boosts fines
May 1, 2008
The Associated Press is reporting that China''s proposed food safety law, which promises tough penalties including possible life imprisonment for makers of dangerous food products, is a good first step, industry officials and analysts said recently.
A draft version of the law is aimed at raising standards for an industry that has taken a beating after a series of quality scandals, including tainted exports.
Producers of substandard food could be sentenced to life in prison under the draft law, according to the official Xinhua News Agency.
One food industry official said in addition to punishing people, the government should educate producers about the need to have better practices.
The draft law was issued on the Web site of China''s legislature, the National People''s Congress, as part of the government''s new initiative to solicit public comment. After May 20, it will be submitted to the legislature for consideration, although no date has been set for when it will become law.
The World Health Organization welcomed the draft, but said a food safety law should be more inclusive and cover food products from the farm to the final consumer. The draft law does not cover basic agriculture products, Hans Troedsson, WHO''s China representative, said in a statement.
Zhou Qing, a journalist who spent two years writing a book about food safety in China, said strong implementation of the law is needed.
China pledged to crack down on food safety problems after its exports, including fish tainted with pesticides, came under heavy scrutiny last year.
The draft law aims to improve monitoring of food and establish a recall system for unsafe products. Makers of substandard food products could face fines, imprisonment and the confiscation of their production certificates.
Fines range from $715 to $14,300, according to the draft.