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Beijing gets tough on lax food safety standards

By RJ Whitehead , 02-Jan-2013

The Beijing municipal government will soon introduce a strict law, as well as an accountability system, to ensure food safety in the city. The move follows measures recently taken by Shanghai to blacklist firms that ignore health regulations.

China’s state news Agency Xinua has reported that food producers or vendors will soon be banned from the sector for life if they are found to produce or sell unsafe food under a municipal food safety regulation that was passed last week.

Executives to be held accountable

The regulation, effective from April 1, states that those found to be responsible for food safety problems, as well as the executives of companies that commit food safety violations, will not be allowed to operate in the industry for five years after their firms' licences are revoked.

The regulation also bans the use of discarded oil or fat to process cooking oil, as well as the use of such oil as raw material to make food.

The use of "gutter oil," or cooking oil that is created by reprocessing used oil, is a chronic problem in China.

The new law states that catering businesses will not be allowed to dump or discard kitchen garbage, adding that used oil should be handled using professional facilities and collected by licensed companies.

The municipal government will also set up a food safety accountability mechanism to collect, share and release information regarding food safety and enhance regional cooperation, according to the regulation.

The supervision and management of food safety in the city will also be included as a factor when evaluating the work of governments at all levels.

Shanghai takes the lead

Beijing's tough rules on food safety came shortly after Shanghai announced that it would blacklist firms that flout food safety laws.

Under the proposed law, expected to become effective later this year, firms caught using banned substances in food, producing food from inedible ingredients, or illegally making, selling or using banned food additives will be banned from operating in Shanghai, according to city officials.

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