The increasing awareness about food and nutrition has brought the national Food Hygiene Law into sharp focus, with deputies from the National People's Congress launching a large-scale spot check in five provinces to have a comprehensive understanding of the implementation of the law and problems during its enforcement.
Yesterday, a 16-member delegation arrived in Shanghai for a five-day inspection. They will then visit Jiangsu, Guangdong, Henan and Hebei provinces.
In addition to the month-long inspection, nine other provinces have been asked to conduct their own checks and report to the Standing Committee of the NPC.
The present Food Hygiene Law took effect in October 1995. Its ear-lier version was issued in July 1983.
"Food hygiene and safety have become hot topics. Cases involving counterfeit products and food poisoning not only frighten the people but also hamper the development of the economy," said Peng Peiyun, vice chairman of the Standing Committee of the NPC and leader of the team.
She revealed that the delegation will have discussions with officials and experts in the five provinces and conduct checks on supermarkets, food markets and food manufacturers to get first-hand information on food hygiene.
"We want to have a correct and full knowledge about the law and the bottlenecks during its implementation," she said.
The Standing Committee will give suggestions on perfecting law enforcement on the basis of the inspection and opinions from experts and related state facilities.
At the meeting yesterday, Shanghai government officials reported on the city's efforts in improving food hygiene.
"Shanghai has established a citywide monitoring network on food hygiene and conducted repeated and strict checks on producers and sellers. Since 1995, city- and district-level health super-vision institutes have inspected more than 30,000 food articles every year. At present, more than 90 per-cent of the food meets the nation's requirement," said Shanghai Vice Mayor Yang Xiaodu.
Last year, Shanghai cracked down on 2,830 producers and sellers without licenses. Fifty-seven units had their business permits with-drawn and more than 1,000 enterprises were fined a total of 3.9 million yuan (US$469,000).
"However, this has not stopped the illegal activities. In order to make a quick buck, operators are inventing more ingenious methods to produce counterfeit food. The present pun-ishment is also not a good enough deterrent," he added.
(eastday.com May 10, 2002)