China beefs up law to fight food safety scandals

May 3, 2013

(AP)—China's top court has issued guidelines calling for harsher punishment for making and selling unsafe food products in the latest response to tainted food scandals that have angered the public.

The Supreme People's Court said Friday that the guidelines will list as crimes specific acts such as the sale of food excessively laced with chemicals or made from animals that have died from disease or unknown causes.

China's penal code, which forbids unsafe and poisonous food, does not specify what acts are considered in violation of the law.

"We hope this explanation will be a strong tool for police and judicial authorities," Pei Xianding, a supreme court judge, told a news conference.

Adulterating so that it severely lacks nutrition is also punishable as a crime under the guidelines. Negligent government food inspectors are also targeted for criminal punishment.

Despite years of food scandals—from milk contaminated with an industrial chemical to the use of industrial dyes in eggs—China has been unable to clean up its chain.

In the latest scandal, Chinese police have found meat harvested from rats and was sold as lamb after it was processed with additives.

Li Fangping, a Beijing lawyer who represented victims of the tainted milk scandal, said the guidelines are more of a political statement than a judicial document, as existing laws can sufficiently address food . "It is a policy declaration," Li said. "It is a response to the widespread public dissatisfaction."

The supreme court said 2,088 people have been prosecuted in 2010-2012 in 1,533 food safety cases. It said the number of such cases has grown exponentially in the past several years. For example, prosecuted 861 cases of poisonous food in 2012, compared to 80 cases in 2010.

"The situation is really grave and has indeed caused great harm to the people," Pei said.

Harsher are necessary to combat the food scandals, he said. "We cannot tolerate it any longer. We must punish the criminals severely, or we cannot answer to our people."

Explore further: China govt under fire over new food bacteria rule

Related Stories

China govt under fire over new food bacteria rule

November 25, 2011
China's state-run media and web users criticised the government Friday after it ruled that small amounts of a potentially lethal bacterium were permissible in frozen food.

Toxin found in Chinese milk

December 26, 2011
China has discovered excessive levels of a cancer-causing toxin in milk produced by one of the nation's leading dairy companies, the firm said, in the latest in a series of food safety alarms.

Cancer-causing toxin found in Chinese baby formula

July 23, 2012
A Chinese dairy has been ordered to suspend production after a cancer-causing toxin was found in its infant formula, China's quality watchdog said Monday, in the country's latest milk scare.

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.