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Official calls for ban on celebrity endorsements
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An official from the Beijing Consumer Association called for a ban on celebrity endorsements in response to some celebrities' objections to a recent Food Safety Law.

After the recent Sanlu milk powder scandal, the actress Deng Jie, who had appeared in TV commercials for the product, came under fire for what many saw as a neglect of duty, but in the subsequent controversy others said it was unrealistic to expect celebrities take responsibility for food safety.

The newly-passed Food Safety Law stipulates that celebrities bear joint liability for products they endorse. Film director Feng Xiaogang attacked the law on March 5 while attending the recent session of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, claiming the joint liability requirement imposed on celebrities was "partial and unfair".

"If celebrities are responsible, then so are quality control departments and the media. Celebrities are being singled out," Feng said.

Singer Xiangxiang also thinks celebrities were being targeted unfairly. She said celebrities "do not have the expertise to judge the quality of the products they endorse and shouldn’t be made legally liable".

Rejecting the stars' views, Zhang Ming, secretary-general of the Beijing Consumer Association, said that if celebrities are worried about legal liability, they can simply stop endorsing products.

"Celebrities, government departments and the media are all responsible for ensuring food safety. Celebrities are paid for their endorsements, and so are duty bound to accept joint liability," said Zhang. "If they think they are not competent to judge product safety, they would be best advised not to endorse a product."

Zhang Ming added that his association is trying to achieve a complete ban on celebrity endorsement in advertisements.

(China.org.cn by Zheng Xin, March 13, 2009)

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