China pledges "harshest penalties" for food-safety violations

China pledges "harshest penalties" for food-safety violations

SHANGHAI - China has vowed to hand out the "harshest penalties" to food safety violators and to further reform the food and drug safety administration, Xinhua news agency said on Saturday.

Vice-Premier Wang Yang made the comment during an inspection tour of Beijing's food safety monitoring centre on Friday, the news agency said.

Food safety is a highly emotive issue in China where there have been numerous scandals from photos of food oil being scooped from drains to tales of phoney eggs and melamine-tainted milk powder.

More recent scandals have embroiled the likes of McDonald's and KFC-parent Yum Brands Inc. "The strictest supervision should be carried out to create a fair market environment, the harshest penalties should be used to deter violations, and the most serious accountability system should be established to punish those who fail to perform their duties," Xinhua quoted Wang as saying.

In August, Chinese police arrested six staff from McDonald's supplier OSI Group Inc after allegations that workers at its Shanghai Husi plant doctored food production dates and used expired meat. McDonald's and Yum have pledged to improve their supply chain oversight.

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