China fights fake food: Authorities vow to 'bankrupt' firms responsible and 'reward' whistle blowers

By Tingmin Koe contact

- Last updated on GMT

To combat the prevalence of fake food, Chinese authorities said that they would impose heavier penalties on violators and offer whistleblowers "handsome rewards". ©Getty Images
To combat the prevalence of fake food, Chinese authorities said that they would impose heavier penalties on violators and offer whistleblowers "handsome rewards". ©Getty Images

Related tags: Counterfeit, regulations, Penalty

Chinese authorities are trying to reduce the prevalence of fake food by imposing heavier penalties on manufacturers and sellers until "they are made bankrupt".

Zhang Mao, the head of China’s State Administration of Market Regulation (SAMR) made the point at the press conference for the second session of the 13th​ National People’s Congress. 

“We need to significantly increase the costs of such violations to make violators go bankrupt and publicly list these violators so there is no place for them to hide,”​ he said.

He said that the authorities had identified a number of key products for heavy monitoring, with food, medicines, children and elderly products topping the list.

Besides imposing heavier fines, Zhang said whistle-blowers would be “handsomely rewarded”.

In addition to the carrot-and-stick approach, the authorities will set stringent standards based on international guidelines, when monitoring the source and process of food production. He has thus urged enterprises to exercise self-discipline.

“Through our hard work, we dare not say that we can eradicate fake products completely, we can only say that we are gradually working towards a future where lesser fake products are made available,” ​Zhang said.

China has repeatedly made known its intention and plans to address food safety issues in recent years.

Since last month, the local government is made accountable​ for ensuring food safety in their areas of administration for the first time.

However, the efforts made were not without its challenges. Earlier on, Chinese official Yang Peijun, the vice-chairman of Autonomous Region People’s Government in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Regions, had brought up the challenges associated with tracing food sources​ in China.

He pointed out that information gaps, the absence of harmonised standards, and the lack of policies to support food traceability efforts were some of the challenges met.

Environment pollution

Besides combating fake products, the authorities are also imposing heavier penalties for businesses that breach environment protection.

During the press conference, China’s environment ministry also pledged to keep up the pressure on businesses that pollute the environment.

Environment minister Li Ganjie added that local government who eased the enforcement of environment regulations for “short term gain”​ would be punished.

Last year, the degree of PM2.5 air pollution in China had dropped by 9.3% as compared to the year before, Li said.

In certain places, the degree of PM2.5 air pollution was slightly lower. They included the Jingjinji Metropolitan Region (also known as Beijing-Tianjin-Hebei) and the surrounding areas, Yangtze river delta economic zone, and Beijing, with pollution rate declined by 11.8%, 10.2%, and 12.1% respectively.

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