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Amendments proposed to food safety law
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A draft law on food safety is being reviewed by the Standing Committee of the National People's Congress. Following the recent milk scandal several amendments have been proposed aimed at preventing a recurrence of similar problems and improving the management of food safety incidents.

"The draft law is not by any means perfect," said Wang Xixin, a professor at Peking University Law School.

The law, which was drafted by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ), transfers food safety supervision powers from public health departments to quality supervision departments. The law also puts greater responsibility in the hands of local governments.

Wang said that the draft law does not clearly define the responsibilities of the quality supervision departments and has left too much power in the hands of local governments. Wang said the supervisory powers of the central government should be strengthened instead.

Wang also called for stricter food safety standards. He said Chinese standards are lower than those in force in the European Union and the U.S., and should be improved in line with international practice.

Additionally, provisions for sanctions and compensation need strengthening, said Wang.

The new law will set up a relief fund for victims of food safety incidents. It also places a duty on food producers to supply safe and healthy products. The previous law only prescribed that food should be clean.

Wang told China Youth Daily that important draft laws should be released to the public for comment and the process of public participation in law making should be institutionalized, especially when the law concerns areas of special public interest such as food safety.

(China.org.cn by Yang Xi, October 30, 2008)

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