In July 2020, China’s Supreme People’s Procuratorate (i.e. China’s highest prosecutorial office) began a three-year campaign to strengthen public interest litigation in China, including by focusing on lawsuits involving violations of food safety regulations.[1]

China’s Civil Procedure Law in 2012 authorizes the government to initiate a civil action against individuals and non-governmental entities engaged in conduct deemed harmful to the public interest, including violations of food and drug safety regulations.[2] On March 15, 2021, the World Consumer Rights Day (often a time for increased enforcement of food safety laws), the Supreme People’s Procuratorate published six model cases relating to food safety.[3]  For example, one case involved the investigation by the People’s Procuratorate in Beijing into foods sold via online platforms that lack proper labeling or manufacturing information, as well as the sale of general foods claiming to have health or therapeutic functions. The People’s Procuratorate in Beijing urged the Market Regulation Bureau in Beijing Haidian District to enforce against these activities, and ultimately, 950 distributors were suspended from selling their products on those online platforms.

These model cases reflect China’s recent increase in efforts to address food safety issues through government-initiated “public interest” litigation.

For further information or inquiries relating to this post, please email CovChinaFoodBlog@cov.com.

Contributors for the China Food Law and Regulation blog:

John Balzano, Julia Post, Muyun Hu, Annie Wang, and Audrey Zhi

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[1] See https://www.spp.gov.cn/xwfbh/wsfbt/202103/t20210315_512526.shtml?ZhCZs3cBrx6S=1618470029730#1.

[2] Civil Procedure Law of the People’s Republic of China, Art. 55 (2012 version).

[3] See https://www.spp.gov.cn/xwfbh/wsfbt/202103/t20210315_512526.shtml?ZhCZs3cBrx6S=1618470029730#1.

Photo of Muyun Hu Muyun Hu

Muyun Hu advises multinational and Chinese companies on a range of regulatory, policy, transactional, and litigation matters. Her work focuses on the life science industry, particularly with regard to food, drug, medical device, cosmetic, and other regulated products.