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'Freshness Lamps' Banned in Chinese Market to Avoid Consumer Deception

By KENNY DONG|Nov 21,2023

Chongqing - The days of "freshness lamps" that can be seen on the shelves of fresh produce markets in China are numbered, as a nationwide crackdown on these lamps, including in Chongqing, is primed to take place.

Freshness lamps are a type of lighting fixture used to enhance specific colors and are widely used by vendors and stores selling fresh produce, hence the name. For example, red freshness lamps are commonly used in meat stalls, while green lamps are used on vegetable shelves. These illuminated fresh products appear more vibrant and are believed to stimulate consumer purchasing desires.

Advertisement for freshness lamp products on the Chinese e-commerce platform Taobao, with the Chinese text saying, "the weapon for freshness, making people want to buy at first sight." Such freshness lamps are priced at 20-100 yuan, about 3-14 USD each. (Photo/Taobao)

Despite being controversial, this practice has been an unwritten rule in China's fresh produce market until the State Administration for Market Regulation explicitly announced the ban on "freshness lamps" in the new Agricultural Product Supervision and Management Regulations issued in July 2023. 

In Article 7, paragraph 2 specifically states, "When selling fresh edible agricultural products, lighting, and other facilities that cause a significant change in the sensory characteristics such as the true color of edible agricultural products shall not be used to mislead consumers in their perception of the products." The measures are set to take effect on December 1, 2023.

Some businesses argue that providing lighting for display cabinets is normal commercial practice. However, officials from the regulatory authority state that fresh food is an exception to this category because the color of food is closely linked to its quality, and beautifying fresh products through lighting contradicts market integrity principles.

The upcoming ban has received overwhelming support from netizens on Chinese social media. Some even argue that the ban protects businesses as "working under such lighting conditions for a long time can be harmful to the eyes."

Yubei District arranged for education and advice campaigns in their jurisdictions to remove freshness lamps. (Photo/cqnews.net)

According to the Chongqing Administration for Market Regulation, starting from December 1, violations involving the use of "freshness lamps" will result in fines of up to 30,000 yuan (USD4,200). District governments in Chongqing, including Yubei and Bishan, have already arranged educational campaigns and advised sellers in their jurisdictions to remove freshness lamps.

Consumers who discover relevant illegal behaviors can make complaints and reports through channels such as dialing 12315 or 12345.


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