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Food safety law to be enacted

CHINA'S first food safety law is expected to be enacted on Monday, with tougher penalties for producers of tainted foods.

The new act, passed on February 28, establishes a recall system as well as a cabinet-level agency based in the Ministry of Health in charge of monitoring.

Consumers are entitled to compensation worth 10 times the price they paid for the faulty food as well as the losses they claim, according to the new law.

Materials not included in the approved food additive list are strictly banned. Manufacturers need to list all the additives on food packaging or face penalties.

Because the State Council, China's cabinet, has abolished the inspection exemption system after melamine tainted formula products made by Shijiazhuang-based dairy producer Sanlu Group affected some 294,000 Chinese infants and killed six, the new law has legalized the administrative order and will offer food manufacturers sample tests and inspections for free.

The regulation also bans manufacturers of health foods promoting the therapeutic effectiveness of their products on the labels.

China has launched a crackdown on substandard food manufacturers as part of its efforts to improve the country's food safety.

After recalling 700 tons of powdered milk tainted with melamine, a chemical that can falsify protein readings but cause kidney stones and other complications, Sanlu received a bankruptcy order from the Shijiazhuang Court on 24 December 2008, and four of its top executives were given long prison sentences in January 2009.

In 2007, thousands of American pets were sickened by a Chinese pet food also containing melamine. Two domestic companies were found guilty and punished for intentionally exporting contaminated pet food ingredients to the United States.


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