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The Strictest “Food Safety Law” in China

original article from CIRS

“Food Safety Law of People’s Republic of China”(the Law) was passed by the Chinese Executive Committee 14th Meeting on 24 April 2015 and it will come into force on 1 October 2015.

The Law includes 10 chapters with 154 articles. Compared to the old version published in 2009, which has 104 articles, the Law added 50 new articles as well as a lot of revisions. Important revisions are highlighted below with the comments from CIRS experts.

Critical Issues

The Law improves the supervision on some special food safety issues and some special food including health food, food formula for special medical use, infant formula and etc.

1. Infant Formula Milk Powder
The food safety issue for infant formula has become a focus in China. The Law explicitly stipulates that the raw food material, food additives, product formula, product labels and etc. of infant formula shall be notified to provincial FDA. The product formula of infant formula milk powder shall be registered at CFDA. Formula research report and other documents that can demonstrate the scientificity and safety of the formula shall all be submitted during registration. The Law also emphasizes that the sub-packaging of infant formula is forbidden and that the manufacturer must not use the same formula to produce infant formula milk powder of different brands.

2. Health Food
According to the issues existed during the manufacturing, distributing and promotion of the health food, the Law stipulates that the labels and menus of health food shall not include disease prevention or treatment function and shall have the statement of “this product can not replace medication”. Moreover, the Law notes that the Inventory of Health Food Raw Material will be prepared and published by CFDA. After the publication of the inventory, the raw material that is not listed in the inventory or the newly imported health food shall be registered to CFDA. Other health food shall be notified to the provincial FDA. Imported supplementary vitamins, minerals and etc. shall be notified to CFDA. The detailed guidance is pending for publication.

3. Food for Special Medical Use
Taken into consideration that the food for special medical use is quite different from the normal food, which has a higher safety requirement that doctor’s advice will be needed, such food shall be registered prior to use. Documents such as product formula, manufacturing technique, label, menu and documents that can demonstrate the safety, nutritional sufficiency and clinical effect for special medical use of the product shall all be submitted during the registration at CFDA.

4. Online Shopping of Food
Online shopping of food has become a trend not only in China but globally. There was no such law for the supervision of online shopping of food before, and the safety of the food purchased through internet has become an issue. The Law has adopted new provisions for online food shopping supervision and stipulates that the third party online platform shall require the online food retailer to register using real name and ID with the clear understanding of food safety responsibility. The related certificate shall be acquired by the online retailer and the certificate shall be reviewed by related supervision department. If customers’ rights are influenced after purchasing certain food through the third party platform, compensations can be required by customer from online food retailer or food manufacturer. If the third party platform is not able to provide the exact contact information of the online food retailer or the food manufacturer, the compensation shall be paid by the third party platform directly to the customer.

5. Small Food Manufacture and Processing Mill and Food Retailing Peddler
Due to the mobility of such unqualified small food manufacture and processing mills and retailing street peddlers in China, it is quite difficult for the governmental supervision. The Law stipulates that the local government shall take control of such mills and peddlers and encourage them to improve the manufacture and retailing conditions. Certain areas such as markets, stores or areas that assigned temporary with fixed time range can be used for the qualified mills and peddlers. The detailed measures are expected to be released before 1 October 2015.

Food Safety Supervision

The Law puts more emphasizes on the supervision and control of every step according to the food safety related issues. Manufacturer and government responsibilities and obligations are demonstrated. The punishment and obligation of other participants are also clearly shown.

1. The obligations and responsibilities of food industrial associations are explicitly demonstrated in the Law, which requires that the food industrial associations shall provide related food safety information and techniques to guide the manufacturer and retailer to do business compliantly. ;

2. The Law stipulates that the customer association and other customer organizations shall take the responsibility to supervise the food manufacturer and retailer to protect the customers’ rights.

3. The Law encourages that the news media shall expose the illegal food safety actions, and release food safety related news with truth and fairness.

4. The Law adds measures for the awarding the people that expose the food safety issue. It is stipulated that the people who exposes food safety issue shall be protected and the personal information shall not be released.

Strengthen the Enforcement

The Law strengthens the punishment according to the illegal food safety actions in order to prevent such actions from happening again.

  1. Strength the Criminal Liability Enforcement. If the illegal actions are considered as crimes, the person will be responsible for the criminal liability. If imprisonment or severer crime is sentenced, the person will not be allowed to participate into the food related work for the rest of the life.
  2. The price for the punishment has been increased dramatically. According to the illegal actions, the highest price for the punishment can be as 30 times higher as the price of the products.
  3. The Law stipulates that after receiving the compensation request from customer, the manufacturer or retailer shall pay the compensation first followed by the clarification of the responsible person. For the illegal actions from third party platforms, food testing agents, certification authorities and public media, joint liability or compensation liability shall be undertaken.
  4. Additional measures are added for the repeated illegal actions and provision of illegal areas.

The Law will come into force on 1 October 2015. Related enterprises shall take actions to get prepared to comply with the new law. Should you be interested, relevant assistances can be acquired from CIRS.


The English version of the new food safety law is available now, if you would like to get it, please complete this order form.


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