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Beijing Planning to Make Food Makers, Sellers Accountable for Safety
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Beijing lawmakers are considering a new law that would force food makers and sellers to be responsible for recalling their unsafe products, say sources at the 37th session of the Standing Committee of the 12th Municipal People's Congress.

A draft of the Regulations Regarding Food Safety in Beijing City before the committee stipulates that food producers and vendors should take the initiative to recall food that is found to contain actual or potential health hazards.

Zhang Zhikuan, head of the municipal government coordination office for supervision of food safety, said the system would ensure producers and vendors exercised their responsibilities in reducing hazards, and lower government costs in supervision and management.

He considered penalties laid out in current regulations far too lenient, and inadequate as a deterrent to unsafe practices.

The draft regulations listed 65 food categories commonly used in daily life, such as rice, flour, edible oils, and genetically modified foodstuffs for strict monitoring, said Ji Wei, section chief of food quality control of the industry and commerce department.

The draft regulations devoted 18 articles to penalties in case of violations, with the highest fine fixed at 500,000 yuan, said Ji.

Article 28, for instance, said producers and vendors of unsafe food could receive lenient treatment or even be exempted from penalties if they took the initiative to promptly recall unsafe food.

Before Tuesday's opening of the 37th session of the Standing Committee of the 12th Municipal People's Congress, officials had openly sought public submissions on and held workshops to discuss the draft.

Standing committee members are expected to vote on the regulations on Friday.

Last year, the city's industry and commerce authority ordered 1,480 unsafe food products to be withdrawn from sale, and 21 firms that were repeatedly found with problematic food were banned from city markets.

(Xinhua News Agency July 25 2007)

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