Chinese food safety legislation to become stricter

Posted by Daniel Palmer on 21st April 2008

The Chinese Government have outlined a draft food safety law which will ensure harsher penalties for producers breaking the law. The new law would pave the way for judges to give a life sentence to anyone responsible for substandard food production. For lesser violations offenders can expect fines, income confiscation and/or cancellation of licences. According to the official news agency (Xinhua), the government is seeking public comments and opinions on the law until May 20.

Chinese people have become increasingly concerned about food-safety since the deaths of at least 13 babies in the Anhui province in 2003. The babies reportedly died due to malnutrition caused by being fed milk powder that had no nutritional value. The issues with Chinese food-safety were highlighted globally last year with pet food, seafood and toothpaste exports coming under scrutiny while their Food and Drugs Administration Director was sentenced to death for accepting bribes.

This announcement follows the commitment of greater funding to improve food safety programs and the creation of a food safety leadership team and suggests that the Chinese are beginning to get their act together with regard to food safety.

Australia, in contrast, is considered one of the global leaders in food safety and a recent FSANZ survey indicated most consumers believed food safety and handling procedures were improving in Australia.