The Cabinet endorsed a set of bills Friday that seek to bolster food safety and protect public health in the wake of numerous recent scares.
The bills are in response to the outbreak of mad cow disease, the false labeling of meat and other products, high levels of pesticides found in imported vegetables, and deaths and illnesses caused by Chinese dietary aids.
One of the bills would set up a government food safety commission to evaluate the health effects of certain foods. The commission would consist of seven experts in toxic and chemical products charged with recommending to the health and farm ministers that the government take preventive measures if certain products are found to pose health risks.
Industrial revival minister Sadakazu Tanigaki said the bills are intended to ensure comprehensive food safety.
“We hope to regain the public’s trust in food through the passage of the bills,” he said during a news conference.
Another bill would establish a system to strengthen the supervision of beef distribution so meat infected with mad cow disease could quickly be identified.
The bill would require cattle farmers to register identification numbers assigned to all cows and oblige wholesalers and retailers to put labels carrying the numbers on their beef products.
Other bills would ban false or misleading advertising of food products and raise the maximum fines from 1 million yen to 100 million yen for firms that have sold or imported food containing pesticide residue.
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