The mislabeling and sale of regular food as organic produce will be defined as fraud and the perpetrators will be punished, according to a draft regulation issued by the China Food and Drug Administration.
Both the products and any profits generated will be confiscated by the food and drug authorities, while the main culprits will be subject to fines ranging from 10,000 yuan (,450) to 30,000 yuan, according to the draft, which was open to public consultation until last week.
A number of other activities, such as using recycled or out-of-date materials to produce food or promoting products by exaggerating their health benefits, will also be punishable, the draft said.
As a supervisory measure, every regular-sized package of organic food sold in China must carry a special label that includes a unique, official 17-number digital code to enable consumers to find product information.
Last year, more than 1.7 billion codes were released, the administration said.
However, there have been several cases involving mislabeling or fake labeling, according to media reports.
Some e-commerce platforms have sold nonorganic food while claiming the produce to be organic or “green”, even though the products had not been certified as such, the Beijing News reported last week.
Earlier this month, the Liaoning Provincial Administration of Quality and Technology Supervision said three food companies in Shenyang, the provincial capital, had been punished for violations involving organic food.
Last year, one of the companies, the Shenyang Zhendi Organic Agricultural Food Cooperation Community, was found to have sold corn labeled as organic, despite the fact that the product had not won official certification. The company was fined 10,000 yuan and ordered to change the packaging, the administration said.
In another incident, Dalian Changrun Agricultural Co, in Liaoning, was discovered to have labeled organic cowpeas as organic eggplants. It was ordered to rectify the situation.