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Chinese Court Empowers Consumers to Sue Over Unsafe Food

Beginning March 15, Chinese consumers will have support from the courts in their efforts to sue manufacturers and retailers of unsafe food and pharmaceuticals, according to the South China Morning Post.

The ruling, announced last week, encourages members of the public to take legal action against those who make or market harmful food, drugs, cosmetics or dietary supplements.

Fraudulent and unsafe food has become a growing concern in China in recent years, with the country seeing a number of high-profile food scandals.

The guidelines issued by the Supreme People’s Court state that consumers could sue both the manufacturers and the retailers of substandard products for 10 times the price paid.

Recent Chinese food safety headlines include a 2008 scandal involving milk and infant formula tainted with melamine that sickened an estimated 300,000 people, including 54,000 hospitalized babies.

And, earlier this month, the Chinese branch of Wal-Mart recalled a donkey meat product for containing fox DNA.

© Food Safety News
  • overseaschinese

    It’s a good step forward. However, I fear that it may be counter-productive. We see it often in other countries where significant number of consumers abuse such laws for their own benefit.

    What China should continue to pursue is setting high standards across the entire industry. At this moment, we know that there are only few players who have high standards due to their financial capacity. Where in the West, governments ‘forced’ companies to seek alternatives when they could not meet standards due to financial reasons; China should instead subsidise and/or provide incentives for SMEs to achieve the same standards at very minimal costs.