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April 13, 2017

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Dangerous food hotline is sizzling

THE city’s food safety hotline 12331 received 14,479 calls in March, a year-on-year increase of 47.1 percent and accounting for almost half all calls in the first quarter this year, the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration (FDA) says.

Calls to the hotline have almost doubled to more than 600 a day since new hygiene rules took effect on March 20, says Yang Hongjin, deputy head of the Center of Complaints and Reporst at the Shanghai FDA.

Half the calls were complaints and tip-offs about food safety violations, including expired food and unlicensed businesses, she said.

Citizens can provide real-name or anonymous tip-offs, and whistle-blowers’ personal information is confidential.

The Shanghai FDA has encourages industry workers to provide tip-offs.

These “deep throats” still want to stay in the business, so they would ask people outside the industry to contact authorities concerned with a code, said Shen Ruoqing, head of the Center of Complaints and Reports at the Shanghai FDA.

“Some businesses are trying hard to cover up violations. And tip-offs from insiders really save us a lot of time in investigation,” he said. “The recent scandal of the famous bakery Farine is such an example.”

Last year, an insider told the Shanghai FDA said a food company was hiding expired food materials in a residential complex, which would not have been found if it weren’t from the insider, said Shen.

Comprehensive rules will also be rolled out to boost food safety in online food delivery portals, which in the first quarter have triggered complaints and reports that quadrupled those of the same period last year, said deputy head Yang.

Citizens can be rewarded with up to 300,000 yuan (US$43,575) if the tip-offs are proven to be true. About 766,300 yuan were handed out as rewards last year.


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