The Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress (NPC), the country’s top legislature, on Friday voted to adopt an amendment to the Food Safety Law that gives the heaviest penalties yet to offenders.

With 154 articles, compared with 104 in the original law, the revamped Food Safety Law stipulates harsher punishment for food safety-related violations and adds new articles and provisions to tighten regulations on baby formula and online shopping. It is the first change to the legislation since it took effect in 2009.

Touted as the “toughest food safety law” in China’s history, the amendment is considered a move toward achieving the strictest ever supervision system for food safety, a goal the current leadership set at the third plenary session of the 18th Communist Party of China Central Committee in November 2013.

The issue of food safety has long been a sore point with Chinese people, who have been shocked by a string of food safety scandals in recent years. They include injecting clenbuterol into pork, recycling cooking oil from restaurant leftovers, selling pork from sick pigs, making medicine capsules with toxic gelatin and passing rat and fox meat off as mutton and beef.

The new law, which will go into effect on Oct. 1, 2015, was adopted after three readings by lawmakers, which is common in China for a law or amendment before being passed. (Source: Xinhua News)

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