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Beijing Tightens Food Safety Control With Life Ban in New Rules

Beijing plans to ban people convicted of food-safety crimes from investing in and operating related businesses as China’s government steps up measures against such violations.

The city will better regulate the use of edible additives in the catering industry, and crack down on the illegal use of inedible substances and mislabeling of production and sell-by dates, according to a draft amendment to food-safety regulations published on the municipal government’s website. Beijing’s government will seek the public’s opinion until April 25, it said in a statement dated April 6.

The rules reflect China’s efforts to improve regulation of the industry after a string of incidents related to tempered food, including tainted milk, added to public concern over food safety. Chinese Vice Premier Li Keqiang has called for harsh punishments against violations and said the nation plans to establish a long-term mechanism this year to check food safety.

China will prioritize regulation of non-edible additives this year, the State Food and Drug Administration said March 16. The agency urged local governments to step up supervision of such additives, including antibiotics.

Six infants died and 300,000 were sickened in 2008 by formula milk containing melamine, a chemical used to make plastics and adhesives, in China’s most severe food incident.

Further Scandals

The nation has faced more food-safety incidents in the past year that has fanned public anger and anxiety.

A Beijing branch of McDonald’s Corp. was found to have sold chicken wings past their sell-by period last month, while Carrefour SA mislabeled ordinary chicken as premium, forcing it to shut an outlet in central China on orders from the local government.

Wal-Mart Stores Inc. temporarily closed all its 13 outlets in Chongqing last year after mislabeling ordinary pork as organic. Police detained 37 employees, and Ed Chan, Wal-Mart’s head of China operations, resigned for personal reasons after the incident.

China Mengniu Dairy Co.’s website was hacked in December after regulators found excessive levels of toxin in its milk products.

Police in China have arrested at least 32 people for producing “gutter oil,” which is reprocessed from restaurant waste and resold as cooking oil, and seized more than 100 tons of the substance, the Ministry of Public Security said in September.

Beijing will ban the transportation and processing of waste oil from restaurants by people who haven’t registered and received approval from the municipal government, according to the April 6 statement.

Food-related companies and operators whose licenses were previously revoked may see their ban extended by five years from three years currently, according to the draft amendment.

China’s southern city of Shenzhen will offer payments of as much as 500,000 yuan ($79,000) to people who give tip-offs that help uncover food-safety scandals, the state-run Xinhua News Agency reported last month, citing Guo Chen, a market-supervision official.

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