May 31, 2011


China's food safety violators to face death penalty


Amid deepening public concerns over the country's food safety following a wave of recent scandals, China's highest court has ordered judges nationwide to hand down harsher sentences, including the death penalty, to people convicted of violating food safety regulations.


The Supreme People's Court said in cases where people die from food safety violations, convicted suspects should be given the death sentence, while criminals involved in non-lethal cases should face longer prison terms and larger fines.


It also called for harsher punishment for government officials found protecting food safety violators or accepting bribes from them.


"The overall food safety situation is stable and improving, but incidents that still occur regularly have seriously endangered people's lives and caused strong social reactions," said Wang Shengjun, the country's top judge. "Our task to maintain food safety remains challenging."


From milk laced with melamine, pigs fed with performance-enhancing drugs to watermelons juiced up with growth-stimulating chemicals, a series of recent scandals have outraged Chinese consumers, despite ramped-up government crackdown and state media campaign against food safety violations.


From last September to April this year, Chinese courts have tried and convicted 106 people accused of violating food safety, including two who received life imprisonment last month in a "melamine milk" case.


"It's clear that the credibility of the system will suffer," said Peter K. Ben Embarek, the World Health Organisation's food safety official. "The (Chinese) consumer will continue to lose confidence in Chinese products and consumers abroad will equally lose confidence in Chinese products."

Video >

Follow Us