Harsher punishment for food crimes

CNC report from Beijing
Added On May 5, 2013

Beijing says it will impose harsher punishment on the production and sale of unsafe food products, to combat increasingly severe food scandals.

On Friday, the Supreme People's Court and the Supreme People's Procuratorate issued interpretations that specify food safety crimes and set standards for punishment.

The court spokesman Sun Jungong told a press conference, the explanations will form a more rigorous system to punish such crimes.

Food safety scandals in China have emerged one after another in recent years.

In the melamine-tainted infant formula scandal in 2008, at least six children died and 300,000 fell ill.

Other cases include pork adulterated with clenbuterol, cooking oil recycled from leftovers in restaurant kitchens, and toxic gelatin used to produce medicine capsules.

The latest case is making fake mutton and beef from rat, fox and mink by adding chemicals.

Sun says these crimes have done severe harm to public health and to the society.

In the past three years, food safety cases grew exponentially.

The number of poisonous food cases tried by Chinese courts rose from 80 in 2010 to 861 in 2012.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) SUN JUNGONG, Spokesman, Supreme People's Court:
"From 2010 to 2012, some 2,088 people were punished in 1,533 food safety cases."

Sun says the interpretations have specified charges for different cases of undermining food safety.

SOUNDBITE (CHINESE) SUN JUNGONG, Spokesman of the Supreme People's Court:
"The first is using poisonous and harmful materials to process food; the second is adding banned additives to food; and the third is producing and selling health care products with illegal additives."

The spokesman says the court also issued a judicial interpretation on dereliction of duty in food safety supervision, one of the major reasons seen as behind the increase of food-related crimes.

The interpretation makes it clear that violations of this kind should be charged with the crime of dereliction of duty in food safety supervision, instead of the lighter offenses of either abuse of power or only dereliction of duty.