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November 16, 2011

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Tougher law for product recalls

SHANGHAI is drafting tougher laws giving watchdogs powers to demand defective products are removed from shop shelves and punish local manufacturers and retailers that fail to comply.

Currently, state law only covers mandatory recalls of food, pharmaceuticals, toys and cars, leaving other products uncovered by legislation.

The local quality watchdog said yesterday that in recent years some multinational manufacturers have taken advantage of this legislative weakness to keep products on sale in China that had been recalled in other countries due to defects.

To partly close this loophole, legislators are currently working to introduce a local Product Quality Regulation.

Legislators discussed the first draft yesterday and are expected to pass the legislation next year.

It will give the Shanghai Quality and Technical Inspection Bureau the legal clout to initiate mandatory recalls of unsafe or substandard products and hand out punishments to companies ignoring the orders.

Errant manufacturers could be punished by penalties of half the total shelf price of products ordered to be removed, according to the draft.

The law would also give the watchdog the right to run random quality tests of products sold in town, with manufacturers and sellers providing samples and other assistance.

If safety hazards are discovered, the companies should take immediate action to remove them. This could include improving design and recalling products.

And if companies are slow to respond, the bureau would have the power to launch mandatory recalls and publicize the order to alert consumers, according to the draft law.

In addition, the law would also ban companies from using products that have faced injunctions as free samples or gifts attached to other goods.

The proposed law would be restricted to local-based manufacturers and sellers.

In cases involving flawed products manufactured out of town, the law would require the local supervision watchdog to tell its counterparts to investigate and administer punishments.


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