Chinese act to improve food safety

Companies face tough penalties under new food-safety law

China The country's National People's Congress has published the draft regulation on its website, inviting public comment, according to the news agency Xinhua.

The law covers monitoring of food safety, recalls and the issuing of information. Punishments for breaking the rules include fines, revocation of production certificates and prison terms ranging from three years to life.

The new law demonstrates China's determination to tackle the food-safety problems that are beginning to blight its reputation globally. In the US, a series of scares, including one involving melamine-contaminated pet foods, have heightened consumer concern over products sourced from China.

California-based health-food chain Trader Joe's has stopped selling single-ingredient Chinese products, such as vitamins and rice, in response to this. Utah-based Food for Health International, meanwhile, labels some of its products as 'China-free.' Although drug- rather than food-related, the recent heparin contamination scare, which is linked to China, will not have aided matters.

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