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Recall Rule to Improve Food Quality in Shanghai
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Shanghai's first rule regulating the recall of inferior food will go into effect on August 1, officials from the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration said yesterday.

It is also the nation's first rule on recall of substandard food.

The administration will provide training and explanations of the rule to local food enterprises before August.

"Recalling means the manufacturer or seller reports to the government and inform customers in time after detecting a product's harm or potential harm and remove the product from the market and customers," said Gu Zhenhua, director of SFDA's inspection department.

When enforcing the recalling rule, the local government will pay more attention to preventing and controlling a threat to customers.

Currently, the government only imposes a fine and punishment on an enterprise afterward, officials said.

The rule lists three levels of poor-quality food.

On top of the list is an A-level product, which has resulted in serious harm or even death or can seriously affect people's health. Under this level, the manufacturer or seller must report to the government and fulfill a recalling plan within 24 hours and finish recalling within 72 hours. Relevant sellers must report to the government on the process of recalling every 24 hours.

B-level products cause temporary harm or have a slight possibility to cause serious harm. Enterprises are required to recall these products within seven days.

C-level products don't cause serious harm. Manufactures only need to take products back from retailers.

"There are two types of recalling. One is enterprises' voluntary behavior, another is triggered by a government's order if an enterprises does not recall voluntarily or their recalling is not effective," Gu said. "The government still imposes punishment after recalling. We give lenient punishment if they perform well, otherwise the punishment will be severe."

Fines are one to five times the value of illegal income. The value of recalled products are not calculated as illegal income.

"The companies with serious violations of the rules can have their licenses withdrawn," he added.

(Shanghai Daily June 9, 2006)

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