Any individual or company that has been convicted of food safety crimes in China could be banned from the food industry for life, claimed a report by the China Daily on Monday, as the government continues to crack down on food safety violations.
Last week, China’s State Food and Drug Administration (SFDA) implemented a new nationwide regulation that would force all restaurants to display notices of their food safety levels at their storefront.
The SFDA also announced that it would go around the country to assess the food safety levels of all catering service providers, including restaurants, fast food outlets, beverage stores, and canteens.
Restaurants found not abiding by food safety regulation or altering their food safety level signs by themselves would also be published in the media and on the government’s websites, said Xinhua last Thursday.
But the Beijing Food Safety Regulation committee has decided to take the government’s efforts even further by proposing a lifetime ban for all violators of the new food safety laws.
"Those who have been convicted of food safety crimes shall never again be engaged in the industry,” wrote the new section of a draft amendment proposal, written by the city’s food safety office.
The city’s legal affairs office added that the proposed amendment would be a better way to regulate the food industry, while pointing to additional amendments made in the draft proposal that included specific regulations on new types of food safety incidents that have developed in recent years, such as gutter oil (illegally reused cooking oil), illegal additives and nitrite poisoning incidents.
"To ban those people from the food business for life will bring more of a sense of security to the public,” said Fan Zhihong, an associate professor of nutrition and food safety at the China Agricultural University.
Fan however pointed out that training was necessary for some members of the food industry, particularly as "some chefs or producers lack knowledge about what kinds of additives can be used and what amounts are reasonable according to relevant regulations".
Any producer or seller who continued to engage in illegal behaviour even after training should get "heavier punishments to ensure they will not do harm again,” said Fan.
Wang Xing, a Beijing-based lawyer specializing in food safety and criminal cases, though said that he was pessimistic about the draft regulation's effect on food safety.
"The key to solving food safety problems lies in the reform of administration enforcement. A new regulation with heavier punishments and more articles cannot solve the key problem.”