Large rewards will be offered to people who report illegal practices in the food industry under a drive to tighten food safety in Beijing.
The newly released food safety regulation amendment raises the top available reward to 50,000 yuan (US$6,579), five times higher than before.
Announced by the Beijing Municipal Food Safety Committee, the new rewards came into force yesterday.
Aside from the bigger rewards they include a guarantee that people who anonymously report illegal practices will also be rewarded.
"The new rewards should encourage people to get involved in improving food standards," said Tang Wenhua, an official with the food safety office under the Beijing municipal government.
Under the amendment, the use of a six-digit code instead of real names is acceptable in reporting illegal practices in the processing, transporting and sale of food.
Under the previous practice, identification was required to claim rewards, which the committee feared drove away possible sources scared of retaliation or inside informants likely to be affected by action taken by their employers.
Feng Yuan, supervision director of the food safety office, admitted that in the past many rewards never reached the people who had uncovered illegal practices.
"Allowing anonymous reports will be good for both the general public and those prepared to dig in the dirt to uncover wrong doing," said Feng.
At the same time however, the office is mulling different ways of preventing false reports filed by business rivals.
Adopted for trial in November 2004, the previous regulations have seen 655 food safety violations reported and rewards totaling 121,651 yuan ($16,007) paid.
"Under the new amendment, reporting wrongdoing will be easier," Tang told China Daily.
Sources will be able to report illegal practices over the phone and through letters, faxes and emails to any of the related authorities of industrial and commercial administration, quality control and supervision and public health watchdogs at all levels.
When the allegations are proven, the sources will be able to prove their identification by providing their ID card or the six-digit code and collect their reward.
Aside from the large rewards available for reporting illegal practices in the food industry, reports on hazards that threaten public safety are now also guaranteed a reward of between 1,000 yuan (US$132) and 10,000 yuan ($1,320).
(China Daily July 27, 2007)