Regulatory Department Reform and Current Regulations on Street Food Vending in China


The regulatory department in 1990s was in a similar form as the structure when the PRC was established – multiple departments and laws were involved. Moreover, there were specific regulatory office and law-enforcement team on regulating vendors. While it seemed to be strong regulation power, the problem on regulating vendors still existed.

According to Yi Wang’s article on Shanghai City Management,

In 1990s, the former authorities of urban management fell in more than 10 departments including street supervision, urban appearance supervision, urban plan, real estate, garden and urban greens, industry and business, public security and street-level government. In addition to the complicated regulatory roles, there were specific regulatory offices on vendors and other law-enforcement team. The job these departments were doing was just fining vendors but not actually regulating. The people commented that more than ten officers even could not regulate one vendor.


(王翼. “上海城市管理综合执法改革透视.” 上海城市管理 14.1(2005):61-63.Wang, Yi, “Looking at Reform of Centralized Administration on Urban Management in Shanghai”, Shanghai City Management 14.1(2005):61-63)

When it came to early 21st century, the central government announced several executions for reforming regulatory department on urban management which required local government to merge some offices or departments to concentrate regulatory power, and published several regulations about improving centralized administration punishment.

Current government departments are local Food and Drugs Administrations and Urban Green Plant and Appearance Bureau. However, the earliest official document online for illustrating department reform and duties can be only traced back to 2003:

Shanghai Government Department Reform in 2003:


Based on Drugs Administrations, Food and Drugs Administrations would establish, which would continue the duty in drugs administration, but in addition, take charge of administration and coordination in food, health products and make-ups safety. It would be responsible for investigating in major accidents according to laws.


Shanghai Government Department Reform in 2008-2009, detailed reform document on the new Shanghai Urban Green Plant and Appearance Bureau:

The Shanghai Green Plant Bureau and Shanghai Urban Appearance Bureau (as well as its affiliated department Shanghai Urban Management Administration and Law-enforcement Bureau – Chengguan) are integrated into the Shanghai Urban Green Plant and Appearance Bureau. It will also take charge of partial duty of Shanghai Urban Plan Bureau in outdoor advertisement management.

Recent governmental documents about laws related to street food:

Central government emphasizes food safety problem in street food vending and online food business in this year’s report. This is the first time that central government put the key word“摊贩” vendors in their official report. In addition, the central government recently has published a document ““十三五”国家食品安全规划” (National Food Safety Plan for the 13th Five Years), which mentions that the government encourages food vending business but asks for more effort in clarifying the business’s responsibility, modifying the current regulatory system and strengthening regulations. Previously, the Report of the Standing Committee of the National People’s Congress on Executions of National Food Safety Law mentioned “摊贩” three times in 2002, 2010 and 2016.

Quotations from governmental documents:


Report of National People’s Congress on Executions of National Food Safety Law (2016)


(1) Food safety is still a serious issue

…Secondly, there are 11.85 million companies who own the license for food production business. In addition, there are many small workshops, vendors and food business. The problem of having so many small, diverse and separated food business is significant. The regulation on these business would be hard.


(8) Some practice of law should be clarified

…Thirdly, the regulations on small food workshops and food vendors according to the new Food Safety Law should be made by provinces and cities. However, there lacks a clear definition on small food workshops and food vendors, which is a difficulty for local government to establish regulatory system.



Report of National People’s Congress


On the fifth meeting of the 12th NPC on Mar. 8th 2017



(2) Improve people’s sense of safety. The NPC examined the execution of three laws related to public security. Push government of different levels to practice the notion of “people oriented” and “safe development,” which would enable people eat, travel and work safely.


Food is the basic for people and safety is the prior consideration for food. The NPC executed the requirement by President Xi that “enforce the strictest standardization, regulation, punishment and accountability” in examining food safety issue in China. Every process from the farm land to the table, the government would emphasize editable agriculture products, milk powder for babies and related areas including kindergartens and schools that provide food in-house, weakness in food safety regulation on food workshops, vendors and online business, in order to give advice on ensuring food safety. The State Council also has highlighted food safety and made the “National Food Safety Plan for the 13th Five Years.”



National Food Safety Plan for the 13th Five Years.


  1. Current Situation


(5) Improve the regulatory system. The government has modified 10 related laws and regulations including National Food Safety Law and Regulations on Drugs for Animals, more than 20 departmental food safety regulations. 6 provinces have published local regulations on food workshops and vendors. [including Shanghai]


  1. Major tasks


(1) Identify the responsibility of a business


Encourage and support the improvement on production process of small food workshops, vendors and businesses.


(3) Improve regulatory system


Push local government to publish local regulations on food workshops and vendors.


(5) Be strict on regulating


On site examination should follow the examination plan of the year, covering all food producers. The emphasized area are rural area, school and kindergarten, subjects are food workshops, vendors and small businesses, process are frozen delivery and storage and other mid to high risk food producers.

Explanations on Related Laws and Regulations

*Some laws and regulations are removed from last report since they clarify in details about the subjects that should not be applied on vendors.

Laws and regulations are of national level and local government level. National level laws and regulations are more general, such as Food Safety Law, which includes:

Chapter I General Provisions第一章 总则

Chapter II Food Safety Risk Monitoring and Assessment第二章 食品安全风险监测和评估

Chapter III Food Safety Standards第三章 食品安全标准

Chapter IV Food Production and Trade第四章 食品生产经营       

Section 1 General Rules第一节 一般规定

Section 2 Production and Trade Process Control第二节 生产经营过程控制      

Section 3 Labels, Instructions and Advertisements第三节 标签、说明书和广告

Section 4 Special Food第四节 特殊食品     

Chapter V Food Inspection第五章 食品检验

Chapter VI Import and Export of Food第六章 食品进出口         

Chapter VII Handling of Food Safety Accidents第七章 食品安全事故处置

Chapter VIII Supervision and Administration第八章 监督管理

Chapter IX Legal Liability第九章 法律责任

Chapter X Supplemental Provisions第十章 附则  


The underlined chapters are more or less related to street food vending in different aspects. However, those regulations are also applied to other food production and business.  The only two articles mentioned street food vending business are all pushing the responsibility of establishing the regulatory system to local government.


  第三十六条 食品生产加工小作坊和食品摊贩等从事食品生产经营活动,应当符合本法规定的与其生产经营规模、条件相适应的食品安全要求,保证所生产经营的食品卫生、无毒、无害,食品药品监督管理部门应当对其加强监督管理。

The local people’s governments at and above the county level shall put small food production or processing workshops and food vendors under comprehensive control, enhance services and unified planning, improve the production and trade environment of them, and encourage and support their improvement of production and trade conditions and operation at fixed places such as centralized trading markets and stores or within the specified temporary business areas and hours.             


The specific measures for the administration of food production or processing workshops and food vendors shall be developed by a province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government.            



第一百二十七条 对食品生产加工小作坊、食品摊贩等的违法行为的处罚,依照省、自治区、直辖市制定的具体管理办法执行。

Article 127 The punishment of the illegal acts of small food production or processing workshops and food vendors shall be governed by the specific administrative measures developed by each province, autonomous region, or municipality directly under the Central Government.


食品流通许可证管理办法 (2009.7.30) Regulation on Food Circulation License is no longer in practice because of the adoption of Food Safety Law of the PRC.

食品安全国家标准管理办法 (2010.12.1) Regulations on Standardization on Food Safety is a regulation on managing food safety standardization so it does not have direct impact on street vending business.

食品生产许可管理办法 (2015.10.1) Regulations on Food Production Permission clarifies the process for applying for the permission license for food production and administration structure. Since individual business owners are included as subject of the regulation, it could have impact on street food vendors. However, according to the new practice suggestion from central government, street food vendors are more likely to be regulated under a more specific regulation with lower requirements according to local government regulations.

无照经营查处取缔办法  Measures for Investigating, Punishing and Banning Unlicensed Business Operations (2011Revision) is under the supervision of National Industrial and Commercial Management Department. However, the execution on specific cases mainly relies on local government. The Measures do not mention anything specific about street food vending. But if considered in a formal case, most street food vendors should be applied with this measure. The only article could be considered as a related example is about selling agricultural and sideline products by a farmer on a marketplace:

Article 21 The sale of self-produced agricultural and sideline products by a farmer on a marketplace or in an area designated by the local people’s government is not an unlicensed business operation as set out in these Measures.

第二十一条 农民在集贸市场或者地方人民政府指定区域内销售自产的农副产品,不属于本办法规定的无照经营行为。

食品生产经营日常监督检查管理办法 (2016.5.1) Measures for the Administration of the Routine Supervision and Inspection of the Food Production and Operation clarifies the process and corresponding punishment on food production process. It’s related to street food vending business because people couldn’t avoid FDA examinations, even if the check is random.

城市市容和环境卫生管理条例 (2011 version) Regulations on Urban Appearance and Environment was published in 1992, which has limited specific regulation on street food vendors but had a broad cover on the use of public space and the management of urban appearance. There is an article talking about vendors is as following:

Article 26 The competent department shall be responsible for organizing special persons to clean urban market places.                    

第二十六条 城市集贸市场,由主管部门负责组织专人清扫保洁。

The practitioners of the various stalls shall be responsible for their own cleaning.


(Official Translation by


国务院关于进一步推进对集中行政处罚权工作的决定 (2002.8.22) The State’s Council’s Decision on Improving Centralized Administration Punishment. This clarified the power of regulating in different governmental departments and unified the administration execution process. The decision formalized Chengguan team as a governmental department and entitled Chengguan a unified power in multiple areas.



The States Council permits the experiment of centralized administration punishment in Shenzhen in May, 1998. After the central government published the notice on centralized administration punishment in September, 2000, Shanghai local government published the decision on executing centralized administration punishment in urban area. During this period, the government also took “both build and regulate, emphasizing management” as a goal, which helps the nature of construction and management into “urban management”. In February, 2004, the execution was applied to all areas in Shanghai. Shanghai government published “Decision on Executing Centralized Administration Punishment in Shanghai”. This decision brought down the number of departments involved to 5 and simplified government officers for law-enforcement by reducing 20% of the original number. Every district started to have their Chengguan team, which unified the power of urban appearance, plan, green plant, environmental protection, industry and commercial, public security and transportation, real estate and other departments with 78 regulations and laws. The power and field of Chengguan team had a great expansion.

(王翼. “上海城市管理综合执法改革透视.” 上海城市管理 14.1(2005):61-63.Wang, Yi, “Looking at Reform of Centralized Administration on Urban Management in Shanghai”, Shanghai City Management 14.1(2005):61-63)


Regulations of Shanghai Municipality on the Administration of City Appearance and Environmental Sanitation (2009 Amendment) gives more details on street vending in public area. In a word, at the time when the regulation is published, the government are not in favor of street vending, especially when 2010 Shanghai World Expo was approaching. However, with the opinion from central government gradually changing in recent years, there are more measures or decisions published for explaining special cases on street vending, mostly after 2015. The government has adopted an open mind for street vending business now.

第二十五条 市和区(县)人民政府应当合理布局商业配套设施,确定相应的经营场所,供农产品、日用小商品等经营者从事经营。区(县)人民政府应当制定鼓励引导设摊者进入经营场所的措施。





Official Translation by

“The municipal and district/county people’s government shall rationally lay out commercial auxiliary facilities, and determine corresponding business places for operators of farm products and daily groceries to run business. District/county people’s governments shall formulate measures encouraging and guiding peddlers to enter business places.

No unit or individual person shall occupy any road, bridge, pedestrian overpass, underpass or other public places for the purpose of pitching stalls, doing business, and hawking goods, thus affecting the city appearance and environmental sanitation. Any violator of the provisions shall be ordered to make corrections by the CAED, and may be cumulatively imposed a fine of between not less than 50 yuan but not more than 500 yuan. The CAED may temporarily seize the goods that a party hawks and the tools in relation to illegal acts, and request the party to accept handling at the designated spot. After the party has accepted the handling, the CAED shall in a timely manner return the temporarily seized goods and related tools, and transfer the illegal goods to relevant department for handling. The CAED shall appropriately keep the temporarily seized goods. In respect of those goods easy to rot and go bad, the CAED may make proper treatment according to actual situation after retaining evidence.

“No unit or individual person shall occupy any road, bridge, pedestrian overpass, underpass, or other public place to pile goods, affecting city appearance and environmental sanitation. Any violator of the provisions shall be ordered to make corrections by the CAED, and may be imposed a fine of between not less than 50 yuan but not more than 500 yuan.

Those who are approved to temporarily occupy roads and other public places to pile goods or pitch stalls to do business shall keep the surrounding city appearance and environmental sanitation clean and tidy. Violators of the provision shall be ordered to correct by the CAED and may be fined between not less than 50 yuan but not more than 500 yuan.

The persons doing business in the buildings or structures along both sides of this Municipality’s roads or around squares shall not carry out business activities out of doors, windows and exposed walls. Violators of the provision shall be ordered to make corrections by the CAED and may be fined between not less than 50 yuan but not more than 500 yuan.”


上海市人民政府关于禁止生产经营食品品种的公告 (2013.9.29) Government of Shanghai’s Notice on Prohibited Products in Food Business has impact on street food vending business because it prohibited cold cooked food, juice, diary and cake with fresh cream as food for vending, which is closely related to some business such as duck neck and  fresh juice (including sugarcane pomegranate juice and etc.)

上海市食品摊贩经营管理办法 (2015.1.16) Regulation on Street Food Vending Business in Shanghai is the first regulation on street food vendors. It identifies the duty of district-level government, departments (i.e. FDA, Greens and Urban Appearance, Chengguan) and street-level government. In general, the government encourage street food vending business to go into formal marketplace or temporary area that government assigns for vending business. Some of the regulations are covered by the Regulations on Food Safety in Shanghai which is published in 2017, including business requirements, information registration and prohibited items. In addition, the regulation mentioned a part called食品摊贩管理的社会参与和行业自律 (Society’s participation in food vendor management and industry self-discipline):


The government encourage food companies with good credit or professional institutions to participate in managing food vendors and offer food security service for centralized food vending area. The government encourage related food industry associations to enhance food vendor self-discipline, leading the food vending business to a legal operation.

*In the previous report, Eleme has been an example of Internet food company participating in helping food vendors with formalizing their business.

上海市食品药品监督管理局关于在浦东新区内试点施行小餐饮店备案和监督管理的通知 (2016.4.1) Notice on Experiment on Small Eatery Registration and Supervision in Pudong New Area by FDA  Experiment on Small Eatery Registration and Supervision in Pudong New Area is an experiment to lower the requirement for small eatery business since there’s market demand from the public. The goal of the experiment is to simplify the application process – owners could get a registration approval instead of applying for the permission license to operate a small eatery business which has little negative impact on neighborhood, lower risk on food safety and small employment scale. However, according to a media report form (, only two eateries in Pudong got registered in the experimental period of six months. since the requirement is still a problem for owners, especially for getting approval from all nearby residents and not producing lampblack. This practice is commented as a failure.

上海市食品药品监督管理局关于印发《上海市食品经营许可管理实施办法(试行)》的通知 (2016.12.23)

Notice on Executing Temporary Regulation on Food Business Permission in Shanghai. It describes the process and requirements for applying for the Food Business Permission. Street food venders are categorized in the group “Food seller – wholesale/retail or on-site production and sale”. 食品销售经营者-批发、零售、批发兼零售/现制现售

上海市食品安全条例 (2017.3.20) Regulations on Food Safety in Shanghai is the latest government regulation on food safety and the most detailed document on street food vending business.

第四十四条 食品生产加工小作坊、食品摊贩从事食品生产经营活动,应当符合《食品安全法》和本条例规定的与其生产经营规模、条件相适应的食品安全要求,保证所生产经营的食品卫生、无毒、无害。

No. 44 Any business of food production workshops and food vendors should obey “Food Safety Law” and food safety requirements in accordance to the business scale and condition clarified in this regulation to ensure the food safety.

第四章 食品生产加工小作坊和食品摊贩

Chapter 4, Part 2, Food Production Workshops and Food Vendors

  第六十二条 区人民政府应当按照方便群众、合理布局的原则,确定相应的固定经营场所,并制定相关鼓励措施,引导食品摊贩进入集中交易市场、店铺等固定场所经营。



No. 62: The district-level government should follow the rule of making the people convenient and locating the vendors properly to find a fixed business area for vendors and have policy for encouraging the business, helping food vendors set up their business in fixed area such as market and shops.

District-level government can have temporary area in certain time period for food vendors to operate the business according to needs. District-level government should give facilities support to vendors. The area and time chosen should not affect safety, traffic, urban appearance and life of residents.

Food vendors who have business in temporary area in certain time period should register information at district/street-level government. Or related department should give vendors information publicity card for their business, and share the information with local market supervision department, Green Plant and Urban Appearance department and Chengguan.

  第六十三条 食品摊贩从事食品经营,应当具备下列条件:


No. 63 Food vendor should meet these requirements for food business:

  1. The stand should be more than 25 meters away from public toilets, septic tank, septic tank, sewage tank, garbage dump or other pollutions;
  2. The stand should have the equipment for producing, processing, storing, washing, disinfecting and refrigerating, which can accommodate the product variety and quantity;
  3. The stand should have cleaning facilities and equipment for water supply and drainage for washing tools, containers and food.
  4. The stand should have a dump container which has a lid to prevent rain, dust, pollution, insects and flies.
    No stands would be allowed within 100 meters from kindergarten and schools.
      第六十四条 食品摊贩从事食品经营,应当遵循下列要求:

No. 63 Food vendor should meet these requirements for food business:

  1. Vendor should show effective health certificate;
  2. Vendor should show the temporary business publicity card, and operate the business according to the record on the card;
  3. Vendor is not allowed to sell any raw food or any food that does not meet the requirement in law, regulation or food safety standards;
  4. Vendor should use safe, harmless and clean wrapping material, containers and tools;
  5. Vendor should keep personal health and cleanness. They should wash hands and wear clean clothes and caps for working;
  6. The water should meet the national standard on drinking water. The detergent should be safe and harmless, to prevent the food being polluted.
  7. Vendor should meet any other legal requirements.

Vendors should do their business in the temporary arear and time period assigned by local government, follow the rules on urban appearance management and keep the environment clean.
  第六十五条 食品摊贩应当保留载有所采购的食品、食品添加剂、食品相关产品的票据凭证。票据凭证保存期限不得少于三十日。

No. 65 Food vendors should keep the receipt for ingredients and additives for food production for at least 30 days.
  第六十六条 区市场监督管理部门应当加强对食品摊贩遵守食品安全管理规定的指导和监督管理。

No. 66 District-level government on market supervision should instruct and regulate food vendors to follow the food safety regulations.

Chengguan should regulate the food vendors according to urban appearance rules.

County-level government and street-level government should help the regulatory departments to regulate illegal food vending businesses.

Organizations On Behalf of Street Vendors:

There is no such organization in China helping street vendors.

However, in Wenzhou, Zhejiang, the government cooperate with a private service company called “Vendor’s Company” which asks vendors to pay for deposit of 1000RMB for a cart and charges vendor 200RMB per month for management fee. Some people say it’s good for regulation but there’s also some voice arguing that it is monopoly. (Source: Wenzhou Library, Online)

The another case is in Shanghai in 2013. It’s an illegal “organization” that charges vendors management (“protection”) fee and help them deal with government officers.

Media Report:

记者举报上海杨浦区摊贩占道 城管:有保护伞 我不会碰

The Journalist Report to Chengguan in Yangpu about Illegal Street Vendors

Chengguan: There’s Protection Power. I will not regulate them


Date: Oct. 31st, 2013


Abstract: Local residents in Wujiaochang Area had been keep complaining about street food business but no governmental departments took care of the situation. In the interview, the journalist saw some Chengguan stay nearby but they pretended to be not noticing the stands and claimed that they were not the people taking charge of this area.


In the scene, you can see that at the backdoor of Shanghai University of Finance and Economics on Wuchuan road, there is a 10-square-meter large stand on the street, almost taking all the space. Passengers can walk on the road for bikes. The vendor says that they are also having a hard life- they pay 6000 RMB protection fee to “Lao Si” to keep their business.


During the secret interview, “Lao Si” says in phone that the stands do not need any license as long as they pay the money. “The first department who approve my stands are the street-level government and Chengguan. If the Industry and Commerce Bureau or other departments blames you, you just say it’s me who operate the stand, and I will keep you fine.”