Baby formula

Beijing to ban online selling of milk powder

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 27 February, 2013, 12:13pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 February, 2013, 1:12pm


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Online purchases of milk powder will be outlawed under Beijing’s revised stricter food safety regulations, the Beijing Evening News reported.

The new regulations will take effect from April 1.

Beijing Municipal Bureau of Commerce and Industry currently consults five supporting documents through its official website.

The provisions of a draft document require that all food vendors in Beijing must first obtain a food distribution licence. The licence will expire after a period of three years.

Food items will come under three categories, including pre-packaged foods, bulk foods, and dairy products (including infant formula milk powder).

Vendors handling bulk cooked foods will have to apply for a special permit for their businesses.

In addition, food retailers without a storefront will be banned from selling bulk foods or diary products.

These rules apply to businesses such as online shops, vending machines, postal services, telephone and TV shopping operators.

“Online purchases of milk powder are risky and can get out of control,” said a bureau spokesman, “It is especially hard to trace online purchases of overseas infant formula products.”

According to requirements of the draft, online, television or telephone retailers should publish their business names, contact information, food distribution licence numbers, as well as other identifying information.

In the event of violations, the illegal food vendor’s information and details of offence will be released to the public.

Many young people in China are keen Internet purchasers. This is because of the cheap price and great variety of products offered online.

According to the Beijing Evening News report, there are currently over 17,000 items - including sweets, biscuits, crispy rice, chocolates, and nuts - under the category “bulk foods” on Taobao, China’s popular website for online shopping.

Netizens express mixed feelings about the new regulations.“Forget about all these regulations - we need better implementation,” a Weibo user said.

Another said: “Local laws and regulations like these cannot possibly limit online sales of milk powder.”

A third netizen said: “They are cutting our purchasing channels again… are we only allowed to drink tainted milk now?”

A fourth wrote: “Ha ha, [the government is] trying to promote domestic products.”