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China orders death for food safety crimes

BEIJING, May 28 – China\’s top court has ordered capital punishment for food safety crimes that result in fatalities, as the nation battles a wave of scares over tainted foodstuffs.

In notice on Friday the Supreme People\’s Court urged harsher penalties for manufacturers who produce tainted foodstuffs and for food inspectors convicted of dereliction of duty.

"Those food safety crimes leading to fatalities or any other serious aftermath should be sentenced to death in accordance with the law," the notice said.

The order was issued after China eliminated capital punishment for some economic crimes in February, as it moved to curb use of the death penalty in a nation believed to execute more people than the rest of the world combined.

But a wave of food scares seems to have prompted the harsher penalties as safety problems continue despite government promises to clean up the food industry following a deadly 2008 milk scandal.

Tainted pork, toxic milk, dyed buns, melons laden with chemicals and other dodgy foods have surfaced in recent weeks, making consumers ill and highlighting the government\’s apparent inability to oversee China\’s huge and under-regulated food industry.

According to Amnesty International, China executes more people each year than the rest of the world put together, but the exact number remains a closely guarded state secret.

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