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May 9, 2012

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Authorities to focus on food safety in wake of scandals

SHANGHAI authorities will pay "great attention" to improving the city's food safety and the safe operation of urban public facilities, Shanghai Party Secretary Yu Zhengsheng said yesterday.

Public concern about food safety has been growing across the country after a number of media reports exposing safety scams involving the food industry.

Shanghai will also adopt the highest standards possible to complete the major urban projects scheduled for this year to further improve residents' livelihoods and enhance reform and social development, Yu said at a plenary Party meeting, which closed yesterday.

In one of the latest food scandals, formaldehyde was sprayed on cabbages in east China's Shandong Province to keep them fresh during transport.

So far, no such practices by vegetable sellers have been uncovered in Shanghai, authorities said.

According to the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, about 75 percent of food in the local market is imported from other provinces, making monitoring and supervision difficult.

The FDA released a five-year plan (2011-2015) on food and drug safety yesterday, vowing to tighten supervision and establish a reliable food-borne disease monitoring system.

Under the plan, more tests and checks will be done to ensure food safety and the quality of major foods such as edible oil, dairy products and rice.

Since the beginning of last year, Shanghai authorities have cracked 80 food safety cases and arrested 180 people involving in food scandals. More than 200 tons of kitchen waste oil sold to underground recyclers was seized over the same period and 160 underground mills processing such leftover kitchen oil busted.

The city food safety watchdog has vowed to tighten up its crackdown on harmful food-production practices, increase inspections and offer rewards for people who report problems.

Yu also said that the city would continue to make efforts to stabilize the price of consumer goods, improve policies for social security and income distribution, and stabilize the housing market. The local government "would go all out" over the next few years to improve harmony in local communities, Yu said.

He urged authorities to "adopt the highest standards" in propelling the city's major urban development projects, make deeper investigations to detect and resolve bottlenecks and spare no effort in making sure that projects proceed as scheduled.

It was the last plenum of the Party's ninth Shanghai municipal committee, which is approaching the end of its five-year term.

Yu expressed his gratitude to Shanghai residents for their support to help overcome the challenges from a complex external environment during the past five years so that the city's economic reform and social development could be solidly enhanced.

At the next session on May 18, leaders and members will be elected to serve for the next five years on the new CPC Shanghai Committee, as well as the Discipline Inspection Commission for Shanghai, which leads anti-corruption investigations.

Shanghai's Party delegates to attend the CPC 18th national congress late this year will also be elected during the session.


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