Focus on food safety

Updated: 2014-06-24 07:12

(China Daily)

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Will the amendment to the food safety law be able to deal a heavy blow to offenders who incorporate unsafe addictives into the food we eat and thus relieve people of their worries about what they put into their mouths? This was the question on the minds of many when the draft amendment to the law adopted in 2009 was presented to the session of the National People's Congress Standing Committee for review on Monday.

Premier Li Keqiang said in his work report to the NPC plenary session in March that regulations and standards must be abided by to the letter to safeguard food safety. He stressed that the tightest supervision needed to be exercised over the entire food production chain, offenders should receive the most severe punishments and the strictest rules should be employed to hold relevant leaders accountable for food safety.

Obviously, what the premier promised should be included in the amendment.

The amendment stipulates that the fines for unsafe food producers will be 15 to 30 times what the total unsafe food is worth, and the fines inflicted on those who provide unsafe raw materials for the food production will be as high as 200,000 yuan ($32,000). And food safety inspectors will be banned for life if they are found to have cheated in their work.

Relevant leaders will be summoned by higher-level leaders for a talk on food safety accidents, according to the amendment. But there is no knowing how such a talk will increase such leader's awareness and sense of responsibility for food safety.

It goes without saying that much is expected of the amendment, which will likely add teeth to food safety watchdogs and considerably increase the punishments for those found profiteering from unsafe food.

However, a severe food safety law is one thing, its implementation is another. Given the rampancy of tacit rules within and beyond food producers, the implementation of this amendment will hardly be a plain sailing.

It is quite possible for those producing unsafe food to work out their own ways to evade the severe penalties. It is also probable local government leaders will provide cover for the production of problematic food in order to protect local economic growth, since how they will be held accountable for food safety violations is yet to be clarified.

The amendment being reviewed will hopefully be strong enough and enforced enough to bring about fundamental change in food safety.

(China Daily 06/24/2014 page8)