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Celebrities cry foul over joint liability

CHINA'S celebrities grumbled about the new Food Safety Law during the ongoing legislature and political advisory sessions, saying it was unfair to hold them liable, as the law stipulates, if the product they endorse in ads is found unsafe.

Renowned movie director Feng Xiaogang said the provision has aroused concern among many celebrities and they asked him to bring up the topic at the annual session of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference.

The top political advisory body has many celebrity members including singers, actors and writers.

The law adopted last month after four readings by the legislature was welcomed among people who expect more effective control on food safety following the tainted dairy products scandal last year.

But the law has triggered controversy for the "joint liability" clause on advertisements.

It stipulates all social organizations and individuals recommending unsafe food in ads should take "joint liability" for damages incurred.

Under the provision, consumers can demand compensation from both food producers and the celebrities in the ads. Stars are generally believed to be a major target of the provision as they are in high demand among advertisement agencies.

"I think the provision is unfair," said Feng, a member of the National Committee of the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference, at a panel discussion.

"If stars should shoulder joint liability, then quality inspection agencies and the media which publicize the ads should also be held liable," said the outspoken director, who directed "The Banquet" and "The Assembly."

Feng said most stars would ask for quality safe certification before agreeing to recommend the products. "If we cannot trust certification from the authorities, who can we trust?" Feng said.

The director said celebrities should be punished if they are aware the food they endorse is unsafe, otherwise, they should not be blamed.


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