China to bring in tougher food safety regulations

SHANGHAI - China's top legislative body has voted through amendments to its food safety law that will see tougher punishments for violations and tighter regulation of infant milk formula and online shopping, the official Xinhua news agency said on Friday.

Beijing is trying to shake off a reputation for food safety scandals, which have ranged from donkey meat tainted with fox DNA to milk contaminated with industrial chemical melamine that killed at least six infants in 2008.

Xinhua said the amendments, which come into effect on Oct. 1, brought the "toughest food safety law" so far in China, although regulators and industry insiders acknowledge the authorities lack the resources and personnel to properly keep check on a highly fragmented sector.

The new law will have 154 articles, roughly 50 per cent more than the previous version, with particular attention on areas such as infant formula - a sector dominated by international brands - and the fast-growing online food market.

A number of major firms including Wal-Mart Stores Inc , McDonald's Corp and KFC parent Yum Brands Inc have been hit by food safety scandals in China.