Stemming food fraud and false advertising: China food associations pledge self-regulation

By Tingmin Koe

- Last updated on GMT

China food associations have band together to combat food fraud and fake advertising.
China food associations have band together to combat food fraud and fake advertising.

Related tags Food fraud Food safety Adulteration

Forty China food associations have pledged to practice self-regulation to tackle food fraud and false advertising.

A total of 10 action plans were listed in the pledge.

For instance, the associations pledged to supervise food and health supplements manufacturers and suppliers to prevent food fraud.

Other action plans included constant detection of false advertisement, strengthen legal training, respond to concerns raised by the public, and conducting consumer education.

China National Food Industry Association, China Sugar Association, China Alcoholic Drinks Association and China Food Additives and Ingredients Association were some of the organisations that have pledged to follow the action plan during an event on combating food fraud and false advertising held earlier this month.

Commenting on the pledge, China State Administration for Market Regulation (SAMR) emphasised that the trade associations were an “important source in strengthening consumers’ confidence.”

“For trade associations to announce a pledge together, it is a new starting point for the entire food industry to stem fraud and false advertising. The important thing is to execute the processes well,” ​the regulatory authority said in a statement.

Besides trade associations, representatives from Peking University and local dairy giant Mengniu also attended the event.

Vice-president of Mengniu Dairy Group affairs Huang Xin said that the firm would practice stringent self-regulation to ensure safe manufacturing of their products, follow-up on the country’s latest advertisement laws and regulations, and strengthen its ability to distinguish features of false advertising.

Investigation progress

Around 29,000 cases of food fraud and false advertising were caught and investigated from July last year to June this year, SAMR investigation officer Zhang Jin Jing announced in China Food Safety Publicity week held last month.

The investigation focused on arresting: 1) unpermitted product manufacturing; 2) false labelling claims; 3) using the internet to market products illegally and scam selling; and 4) false advertisements.

These transactions totalled 1.5 billion yuan and more than 8,200 accused were caught.

Zhang revealed that these cases occurred in different parts of China, including Guangzhou, Hebei, Xinjiang, Shanghai, Zhejiang, Chengdu and Jiangsu.

For instance, the case in Guangzhou involved the addition of Western medicines into coffee. Over 10,000 boxes of coffee were found to contain Tadalafil, a medicine used to treat erectile dysfunction and Sibutramine, an appetite suppressor.

The offenders also sold the products under the disguise of other brands. Five offenders were arrested as a result.

In other cases, the illegal gains were confiscated and offenders were fined. 

Zhang suggested that multiple parties, including government organisations, industry associations, scientific research organisations, media and consumers should work together to combat food fraud.

He also highlighted the need to release information related to food fraud investigation and punishments available to the public.

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