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People's Daily Online>>China Society

City aims to pull food safety out of the gutter

By Deng Jingyin (Global Times)

10:19, April 09, 2012

Food businesses will be suspended and could face heavy fines for violating kitchen waste disposal rules, according to a food safety regulation draft proposed by Beijing authorities on Friday, which aims to break the illegal supply chain of "gutter oil."

The draft, which is open for public comments until April 25 on the website of the Legal Affairs Office of the Beijing Municipal Government, proposes tightening the rules on how waste oil must be treated. It prohibits the collection or transportation of waste oil from restaurants without a license.

Previous municipal regulations contained no specific rules for gutter oil, the term used for reprocessed cooking oil, illegally produced from waste oil collected from restaurants.

According to the draft law, catering service providers, including restaurants, fast food outlets, beverage stores and canteens, which fail to abide by the regulation to deal with the waste oil, may face a fine of up to 50,000 yuan ($7,930) or be ordered to cease trading altogether in serious cases.

Fan Zhihong, a food safety expert at China Agricultural University, told the Global Times that the new draft imposes harsher punishments for food safety crimes, which is a big change from the previous regulations.

"It increases the power to punish violators, which will also serve as a warning to other potential lawbreakers," she said, adding that those who violate the law will face more scrutiny if they wish to open another food related business.

The draft stipulates that legal representatives or direct supervisors will be banned in perpetuity from investing in or being engaged in the food industry if they are involved in food safety crimes. Those whose business license is cancelled will be barred from the industry for five years, an increase of two years.

"The new draft also points out that problematic food will be destroyed by the food providers [restaurants or stores] instead of being recalled by manufacturers. This move will improve the supervision of withdrawing tainted food," Fan noted.

Workers in a Shanghai factory added old buns, which had been returned to the factory by retailers, to their mixes in order to create "new" buns, CCTV reported in April last year.

Other highlights of the new draft include standardized training for employees in the food industry and a ban on the use of Nitrite, a chemical used to make dyes and preserve meats, which can be harmful to health.

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