China’s top court has demanded heavy penalties for companies and individuals who violate the country’s food safety laws, the state-run Xinhua news agency reported late on Wednesday. The Supreme People’s Court said in a circular that companies selling food online should be held wholly liable for any safety issues affecting consumers and urged firms to compensate consumers more quickly. Food safety is one of the top concerns among Chinese consumers after a series of scares from milk tainted with industrial chemical melamine in 2008 to fiery liquor baijiu laced with impotence drug Viagra. The country’s main prosecutor also said that it had investigated 652 officials relating to misconduct over food safety protection, including for embezzlement and taking bribes, Xinhua reported. The probes took place since the start of last year. China voted through amendments to its food safety law in April that will see tougher punishments for violations and tighter regulation of infant milk formula and online shopping. The new laws come into effect on October 1. Beijing is trying to shake off a reputation for food safety scandals, although regulators and industry insiders acknowledge the authorities lack the resources and personnel to properly keep check on a highly-fragmented sector. Chains such as McDonald’s and KFC-parent Yum Brands have seen sales dashed by supplier scandals, while retailers Wal-Mart Stores and France’s Carrefour have also come under the spotlight.