Rats sold as lamb, poisonous bottled water, repackaging rotting meat and storm-drain cooking oil are just some of the recent scandals that have forced China to finally overhaul the country’s food safety laws.
These shocking cases are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the food safety issues plaguing China’s food industries. Lack of regulation and poor sanitary conditions are just two of the many reasons that these horrendous food safety breaches continue to happen in the world’s most populated country.
Harsher punishments for offenders
The tough new legislation, which is made up of almost 50 per cent more laws than the previous legislation, will target people selling toxic or fake food. The new laws are set to come into effect in October 2015 and will see offenders cop heavier fines, and in some cases jail sentences as well.
Those making and selling the toxic or unsafe food will not just be targeted by the new laws, but their accomplices as well. Landlords will also be open to prosecution if they are found to have known that their tenants were in breach of the new laws. ‘Backyard Butchers’ are common throughout China and are responsible for countless food safety incidents.
Surprisingly though, small businesses with questionable kitchens are not the only ones responsible for the recent food safety scandals. Starbucks and McDonald’s stores in China were also reported to have repackaged and sold rotten food; something that has added further fuel to the fire in terms of McDonald’s current food safety troubles in Asia.
Tougher industry regulation
Baby formula will also be more closely monitored and manufacturers will be required to register their formulas with the food and drug regulator. These strict new laws follow the 2008 tragedy in which six babies died and thousands more became sick after consuming contaminated baby formula from the large Chinese dairy firm, Sanlu Group.
Buyers are set to receive more protection as well from the laws. Online sellers will be required to register their identities with the authorities so that their certificates can be verified. Also, any buyer injured as a result of purchasing bad food will be able to demand a payout from the seller of up to three times any loss they suffered.
Public demand to overhaul the food safety legislation has increased tenfold in recent years and law is being amended for the first time in over six years. However, despite the introduction of the new laws, there are still worries that the sheer number of people in China will mean that authorities will have little chance of effectively policing these new laws.