Life ban sought for food safety crime in Beijing

Updated: 2012-04-09 06:57

By Cao Yin (China Daily)

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People convicted of crimes related to food safety in the capital will be banned from the food industry for life, under a draft amendment to the Beijing Food Safety Regulation.

The new draft, which aims to achieve tougher punishment for food safety crimes and violations, was released for public comment over the weekend.

The public can visit the websites of the city's food safety office or legal affairs office to register opinions, or send comments by post to either office, by April 25.

Under the current regulations, which took effect in 2007, people whose licenses are revoked are banned from the food business for three years. The amendment would extend the ban to five years.

Further, the article that stipulates that people who have been convicted of food safety crimes cannot be legal representatives or responsible officials in the industry also has been revised.

The new section states: "Those who have been convicted of food safety crimes shall never again be engaged in the industry."

The legal affairs office said the proposed amendment will be a better way to regulate the food industry.

The draft also includes specific regulations on new types of food safety incidents that have developed in recent years, such as gutter oil (illegally reused cooking oil), illegal additives and nitrite poisoning incidents.

It also proposes training for people engaged in the food industry.

Fan Zhihong, associate professor of nutrition and food safety at the China Agricultural University, welcomed the draft amendment and said that it was a sign of progress for a local government to regulate sensitive food safety issues in detail.

Fan said those producers or sellers who had engaged in illegal behavior should get "heavier punishments to ensure they will not do harm again".

She said: "To ban those people from the food business for life will bring more of a sense of security to the public."

Fan said training is necessary, because "some chefs or producers lack knowledge about what kinds of additives can be used and what amounts are reasonable according to relevant regulations".

However, Wang Xing, a Beijing-based lawyer specializing in food safety and criminal cases, said he's pessimistic about the draft regulation's effect on food safety.

"The key to solving food safety problems lies in the reform of administration enforcement.

"A new regulation with heavier punishments and more articles cannot solve the key problem," he said.

Wang said full enforcement of existing laws and regulations is more important than making new ones.