Restaurants in Beijing which have "serious violations of law" will have to post their punishment notice in an obvious place from April 1, according to a new regulation from Beijing Municipal Health Bureau.
Notices will have to be posted if the restaurant has been fined above 30,000 yuan ($4,830) twice for food safety violations within 12 months, or if a customer dies after eating at the establishment. In these cases, the restaurant can be prosecuted and business suspended, although this is in the existing regulations.
"The restaurant has to post the punishment notice in an obvious place until they have paid the fine. For those which were ordered to suspend business, the notice will be stuck on either the window or the door for people to see. It can also be found on the official website of the Beijing Health Inspection Institute," said Xu Yadong, director of the Institute.
"After the restaurant has fulfilled their obligation, such as paying the fine, the notice can be removed," Xu said.
Under the current health inspection rating system, Beijing restaurants are rated A, B or C. A represents good, B represents standard and C means basic.
"Those restaurants which were penalized will lose their rating. After the restaurant resumes trading, we'll inspect it within one month and give a rating according to its new condition," Xu said.
Fan Zhihong, a food safety expert at China Agricultural University, said the most crucial thing is to raise the awareness of diners regarding food safety.
"If the notice is posted in obvious places, diners can see what problem the restaurant has. Before, we had similar exposures in reports and websites, but not as direct and easy as this," Fan said.
"So when they come across food problems, they would take more notice of it, either report it to the Consumers Association or other supervisory body or sue the restaurant. Now most people choose to stay silent about minor uncomfortable feelings after dining at a particular restaurant," she said.