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Post Time:2018-11-25Author:F2C

         On March 15th, 2016, the Chinese Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) released the “Measures of Investigation and Punishment of Illegal Conducts Concerning the Safety of Food Sold Online” (hereinafter referred to as the “FSO Measures”). The new law serves as an extension to the “Food Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China”, which acts as a base for all supplementary Food Safety laws to extend from in varying levels of specificity. Taking effect on October 1st 2016, the FSO Measures further the obligations and increase the “laws, regulations and rules” that E-Commerce Food Traders/Producers must now abide by in order to operate legally within the PRC.                                        

        The Measures are broken up into five Chapters, which contain a collective 48 Articles. Below we offer a brief summary of all five Chapters, please refer to the official document on the CFDA website for full details.


       Chapter I – General Provisions

       The FSO Measures predominantly apply to online food trading platform providers (hereinafter referred to as the “Third-Party Platforms”), food traders associated with third-party platforms and food producers (hereinafter referred to as the “Food Producers or Traders) with self-built websites. All investigations and punishments shall be conducted either by the CFDA for national food concerns or by the appropriate provincial authorities for smaller-scale concerns.

        Additionally, all food products being sold online must have their complete product information conspicuously available for viewing. It is the first time that Third-Party platforms are defined to be directly responsible for the authenticity of the information related to their own online products safety.

       This first Chapter sets the tone for the rest of the document, as it provides an overview of the motifs/goals that the Chinese Food and Drug Administration wishes to achieve with this law: transparency, accountability and safety.

       Chapter II – Obligation of Guaranteeing Online Food Safety

        In order to operate a legitimate Foodstuffs E-Commerce business in the People’s Republic of China, the following rules must be strictly abided by. It is worth noting that many regulations present in this particular bill overlap with others that correspondingly supplement the overarching “Food Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China”. Any inconsistencies or failures to meet the outlined terms will result in punishments as outlined in Chapter III. A given business may only operate within the scope of their license parameters and must have said license displayed prominently on their website.

        A given enterprise must follow the appropriate procedures defined by the FSO Measures to register with their provincial CFDA authorities. Complete registration takes roughly 30 days after licensing approval and must include: domain name, IP address, telecommunication business license, name of the company, name of the legal representative or responsible person, record number, etc.

       Said Third-Party Platforms and Food Producers or Traders must have all of their transaction, product, food shelf life, etc., information stored in a digital backup drive complete with failsafe measures. In tandem, said enterprise’s information must be available to access upon request at any time. The CFDA requires unrestricted data access specifically in this industry so as to avoid any Food Safety disasters without precise knowledge of the responsible party.

       Furthermore, it is required that the Third-Party Platforms must have dedicated Food Safety personnel or better still, an entire Food Safety Department to confirm that all foodstuffs are handled according to regulation standards, whether it be during reception, storage or transportation. Also, the FSO Measures have stipulated the activities that Food Producers or Traders shall not engage in.

        Chapter III – Investigation & Punishment

       Continuing with the theme of transparency for food providers in the PRC, the CFDA has given itself the investigative power to inspect or mandate intelligence discovery at will from any enterprise within its jurisdiction. Such capabilities include:

       1.Entering the market place where parties concerned trade food online for on-site inspections;

       2.Conducting sampling inspection on food traded online;

       3.Enquiring the parties concerned and investigating their relevant online food trade practices;

       4.Consulting and copying transactions data, contracts, bills, account books and other relevant information of parties concerned;

       5.Acquiring technology monitoring information and recording information of online trading;

       6.Taking other measures allowed by laws and regulations.

       Chapter IV – Legal Liability

       In an attempt to dissuade companies from violating the aforementioned Food Safety Laws/Regulations, the power of the CFDA to penalize suspect companies has been greatly augmented. It is clear that the PRC wishes to establish high Food Safety standards across all industries, with this extension to E-Commerce being the latest installment. As in our previous coverage of the “Administrative Measures for the Registration of Formulas of Infant Formula Milk Powder” law, the CFDA turns a special focus to ensuring that enterprises guilty of malpractice accept responsibility for their negligence – as reiterated by the title of this Chapter.

        Virtually every possible scenario for a violation of the FSO Measures has been addressed in one way or another. The punishments for infringing upon the outlined rules vary from fines ranging from CNY 5,000 – CNY 30,000, revocation of relevant licenses, or other distinctive consequences defined in the “Food Safety Law of the People’s Republic of China” (Articles 122, 131 and 132).

      Chapter V – Supplementary Provisions

       The final chapter concisely states that all penalty decisions shall be publicized within 20 business days from the date of said decision, and that all aforementioned regulations may also apply to online food sales by “small food production and processing workshops or food vendors”.


       While Third-Party Platforms and Food Producers or Traders, such as JD, Tmall as well as Baidu Takeaway, Meituan Takeaway are becoming increasingly popular, the CFDA must take the above measures to guarantee that B2C transactions cannot cause a potential Food Safety crisis. It is true that C2C (such as Taobao) cross-border food trading is unaffected by the FSO Measures, but these Third-Party facilitators will likely need to make modifications to their business strategies prior to the October 1st deadline. The PRC’s inclusive goal is not to stunt the growth of the E-Commerce industry, but rather to shape it into a medium that is both vivacious and responsible.

        Pertinent enterprises are advised to monitor and review their websites/practices to ensure they do not infringe upon the FSO Measures, and to always confirm with the authorities before proceeding with any potentially questionable business actions.

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