China to execute food safety offenders

Posted on September 16, 2010. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: |


Last Updated: Thursday, September 16, 2010 | 12:58 PM ET Comments20Recommend10

The Associated Press

China warned Thursday that the worst offenders of food safety rules would get the death penalty in a new crackdown on an industry that has spawned embarrassing and deadly scandals in products ranging from seafood to baby formula.

Zheng Shuzhen holds a photo of her year-old granddaughter Zhou Mengxin outside a Health Ministry office in Beijing in 2008 after tainted milk left six children dead and sickened 300,000. Two people were executed as a result.Zheng Shuzhen holds a photo of her year-old granddaughter Zhou Mengxin outside a Health Ministry office in Beijing in 2008 after tainted milk left six children dead and sickened 300,000. Two people were executed as a result. (Ng Han Guan/Associated Press)Chinese authorities already have used capital punishment in some of the most egregious food safety violations, but appeared to be expressing their intention to become even more aggressive in prosecuting such cases.

China overhauled its food safety management system after a series of scandals that frightened consumers at home and abroad, including a problem two years ago with tainted baby formula that killed six children and sickened 300,000.

That scandal led to prison terms for dairy executives deemed responsible and a shake-up of the Chinese milk industry. Two people were executed.

But the problems have continued, with authorities in several cases this year again finding milk tainted with the industrial chemical melamine.

‘Those deserving death penalties should be resolutely sentenced to death.’—Notice from China’s public safety bureau

The official Xinhua News Agency cited a joint notice issued by the Public Security Bureau and three top law agencies as saying severe or large-scale food safety cases must be strictly punished.

“Those deserving death penalties should be resolutely sentenced to death,” Xinhua quoted the notice as saying.

China executes more people each year than any other country, and critics say the death penalty is used to punish too many crimes and applied too often.

The government is debating revisions to the criminal code that would cut economy-related and non-violent offences from the list of 68 crimes currently punishable by death. It’s not clear if the proposed changes would affect punishments for food safety crimes.

Workers check for the industrial chemical melamine in milk products in a lab of Yili Industrial Group Co., one of China's largest dairy producers. Workers check for the industrial chemical melamine in milk products in a lab of Yili Industrial Group Co., one of China’s largest dairy producers. (Alexander F. Yuan/Associated Press)Thursday’s notice also promised harsher punishment for government officials who accept bribes and protect or ignore food safety offenders.

“Officials who are involved in food safety crimes should not be given a reprieve or be exempt from criminal punishment,” Xinhua quoted the document as saying.

The notice didn’t appear to announce changes to the food safety law but said courts should order the highest penalties allowed.

Other food safety problems have included seafood treated with cancer-causing antibiotics or antimicrobials, eggs coloured with industrial dye, and fake liquor that can cause blindness or death.

The announcement was issued Wednesday by the Public Security Bureau, the Supreme Court, the Ministry of Justice and the Supreme People’s Procuratorate, Xinhua said.

The court did not immediately respond to a faxed request for the original notice.

Read more: http://www.cbc.ca/consumer/story/2010/09/16/con-china-food-safety.html#ixzz0zixLSlAv

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