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China Publishes Draft Revisions to Food Safety Law

The Legislative Affairs Office of China's State Council published on October 29, 2013, draft revisions to Food Safety Law of the People's Republic of China (Draft) and requested comments on the draft proposal by November 29, 2013. Overall, the draft reflects a trend in strengthening the regulation of food and food-related products (e.g., food additives and food packaging materials) in China and incorporates new provisions that are now contained in various food regulations.

China's current Food Safety Law contains 104 articles, while the revised draft contains 134. New regulatory requirements for food, food additives, and food-related products included in the Draft include a requirement for food manufacturers and traders to purchase food safety liability insurance. Notably, the currently required three respective licenses for food manufacturer, food trading, and catering service would be integrated into one single license for food manufacturing and trading.

One of the primary focal points of the Draft is to reflect the recent food regulatory restructuring and reform in government functions. (For more information on the restructure, see the Food Chemical News article, China Restructures its Food Regulatory Regime: Will it Improve Food Safety?, by Keller and Heckman Partner David J. Ettinger and Associate Eric Gu.) The Draft also imposes more severe penalties on food manufacturers and traders for violations of the Food Safety Law.

The Draft law would subject food-related products (e.g., food packaging) to the same oversight with regard to biological, chemical, and physical risks. This includes a requirement that manufacturers of food-related products develop safety evaluation documentation for the food-related products and their manufacturing process. In addition, the draft law explicitly prohibits the use of abandoned or recycled materials in the manufacturer of food-related products. Finally, the Draft directs Chinese authorities to establish a safety evaluation review system for food-related products.

The Chinese authorities have not made a formal declaration as to when the revised law will be officially announced. Although, since this has been identified as high priority, it is expected to be finalized in 2014.