Japan’s health watchdog plans to tighten food safety rules and make protecting public health its priority, officials said Friday.
The Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare will submit a bill to the ordinary Diet session next year to revise the current Food Sanitation Law, after listening to public opinion, they said.
The latest move, which will seek to codify the protection of public health, comes in response to a slew of recent public health fiascoes and scandals.
These include how the outbreak of mad cow disease in Japan was handled, the fraudulent mislabeling of meat products, high levels of pesticides in imported vegetables and deaths and illnesses caused by Chinese diet aids.
The ministry also plans to revise a law designed to promote improvements in people’s health and ban false or exaggerated advertising, the officials said.
According to the ministry’s proposal, the Food Sanitation Law’s express purpose would be changed from improving public hygiene to protecting the public’s health.
The revised law would require the central and local governments to provide information on food products and reflect public opinion in policy measures.
The proposal would also enable the ministry to ban sales of food products containing those pesticides for which it has no set standards after a three-year grace period.
The ministry would be able to impose a ban on food products without a complaint being registered if clinical tests on animals and other studies show they could pose a danger to humans.
The proposal would also let the government set policies on inspections of imported food products, while also allowing it to set guidelines on what areas must be given priority when local authorities monitor food-related facilities.
The proposal would seek to give the health minister the authority to order municipalities to investigate food poisoning incidents. It would also require businesses to make efforts to keep records on food products they deal with.
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