No mercy for food safety crime

Updated: 2012-05-04 08:04

By Wang Hongyi in Shanghai (China Daily)

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Food and drug safety-related crimes will be given severe punishment in Shanghai, according to the Shanghai High People's Court.

The court pronounced judgment on eight food and drug cases on Thursday in which 18 defendants received sentences from six months to six-and-a-half years in prison, and were fined 1,000 to 800,000 yuan ($160 to 128,000).

They were found guilty on six charges, including selling counterfeit drugs, selling false products, illegal operation, using fake trademarks, selling products with fake trademarks, and selling illegally made trademarks, according to the court.

"The cases are involved with counterfeit protein powder, salt, white spirits, imported spirits, tobacco and Viagra, all of which are very close to people's daily lives. They brought great harm to people's lives," said Ding Shouxing, deputy director of Shanghai High People's Court.

The Internet has become an important setting for crimes as defendants in half of these eight cases sold their products online, Ding said.

In one case, defendant Chen Youzhi opened an online store at Taobao selling counterfeit Amway healthcare products. From January 2007 to November 2011, he sold 6.06 million yuan worth of products online. On May 3, Chen was sentenced to six-and-a-half years imprisonment and fined 800,000 yuan.

"As e-commerce flourishes in the country, many sellers have begun to expand business online. In this regard, there is urgent need for related departments to strengthen the supervision of online trading," said Zhu Dan, another official from Shanghai High People's Court.

"These cases reflect a low moral state and lack of legal awareness of defendants, and it also exposes the holes in food and drug safety supervision and management by government departments," said Ding Shouxing, deputy director of the court.

"Those departments should enhance and improve their social management while those online trading platforms should also regularly verify the quality of business operators on the platform," he said.

"Shanghai courts pay a lot of attention to food and drug-related crimes, and will give severe punishments in these cases," Ding noted.

Though the city has been working hard to ensure food safety in recent years, it still faces some tough challenges, such as the low-level standardization of the food industry, lack of honesty in enterprises and the low quality of working staff as well as the absence of related food safety rules and regulations.

"Now the city is carrying out a bold exploration of the food safety risk and trying to establish a comprehensive food-safety risk monitoring and assessment system during the 12th Five-Year Plan (2011-15) period," Yan Zuqiang, the director of Shanghai Food Safety Office, said in an online interview at

"A complete food safety monitoring network will be set up that will cover the whole food chain and can trace food from the field to the table," he said.