China's central government passes draft revision of nation's food safety law, in which companies producing or selling food would establish system to make sure their products are traceable

May 14, 2014 () – The central government passed a draft revising the Food Safety Law on Wednesday.

It will then go to the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress for review.

According to the revision, companies producing or selling food should establish a system to make sure that their products are traceable.

"Food producers and sellers hold the prime responsibility for food safety," said the revision, adding that they should operate their business in an honest and self-disciplined manner.

The revision enhances the punishment for violations.

For example, those who put non-edible chemicals into their products or produce or sell infant formula containing nutritional ingredients that do not match the safety standard will be fined up to 30 times the cost of the illegal products.

In addition, those who have been sentenced with jail time or more severe penalties for producing or selling unsafe food are never again allowed to produce or sell food products.

The government will also establish a system to reward whistleblowers who report those who threaten food safety as well as put in place compulsory food safety liability insurance for food companies, according to the revision.

Hao Yansu, director of the School of Insurance at Central University of Finance and Economics, welcomes the insurance, but said that specific plans are needed to make it enforceable.

"The problem of food safety is that it involves people's lives, thus the premium should be carefully designed to make sure it's affordable for companies," he said.

"The government could consider coming up with some kind of subsidy for the companies, so that the cost will not be transferred to consumers."

Food safety has become a national concern in recent years, after media released several reports, including one that revealed some companies were using oil recycled from leftovers in dishes and sold it as cooking oil.

(China Daily 05/15/2014 page3)

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