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Latest serving of food law ready for review
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The latest draft of the widely anticipated draft food safety law designed to raise standards and improve supervision will be submitted to the national legislature for its second review next week.

Drafts of the seventh amendment to the Criminal Law, an amendment to the Insurance Law and an amendment to the Patent Law will also be tabled for first reading at the fourth session of the 11th National People's Congress (NPC) Standing Committee to be held from next Monday to Friday.

The decisions were made yesterday at a meeting of the chairman and the vice-chairpersons of the NPC Standing Committee.

"Food safety is vital to improving people's lives and health, so legislation must match national efforts to safeguard food safety," Wu Bangguo, the committee's chairman, said at the meeting.

The first draft of the food safety bill covered food production, processing, consumption and regulation. It called for the swifter release of information, as well as higher fines and punishments for errant firms and irresponsible officials. It also required the establishment of a food safety risk analysis and monitoring system.

Insiders said the second draft streamlines the regulatory mechanism and may include some changes regarding the new product identification and tracking system, which has been in the spotlight recently over concerns it may raise production costs and be of little practical use.

There were eight stipulations about the system in the first draft, but they were criticized during the public discussion of the draft between April 20 and May 20, according to the committee.

However, it is unlikely that the second draft of the food safety bill will be passed at next week's session, as the Legislation Law stipulates that a draft law usually receives three reviews before being adopted.

According to insiders, the draft of the seventh amendment to the Criminal Law, set to be tabled next week, may lead to heavier penalties for corruption, economic crimes and some behavior that harms citizens' rights.

(China Daily August 19, 2008)

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