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May 31, 2012

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Locals still worry over food safety

MORE than 70 percent of Shanghai residents are concerned about domestically produced food - a trend that shows no signs of easing, according to a survey released yesterday.

The safety and quality of meat and dairy products worried local people the most, the survey said.

The survey of 4,000 people in eight big cities like Shanghai and Beijing found more than 73 percent felt unsafe or very unsafe about food. The survey, gauging opinions on food safety and the government's food safety management, was led by the Shanghai Institute of Food and Drug Safety.

Only 6.7 percent of people in the eight cities think domestic foods are becoming safer. Only 12 percent nationally said banned food additives such as dye in steamed buns and lean meat powder to stimulate pigs' muscle growth either don't or may not exist in their city.

"I worry about the safety of domestic formula powder so much and asked my relatives to bring formula from Hong Kong, though it is very troublesome," said Yang Bin, a local father with a two-month-old daughter.

Most said they think the illegal practices occur in the production and processing of food, which they consider the weakest link in the food supply chain in China.

Most criticized government inspections, saying they are weak, while punishment for violators is inadequate, the survey found.

"Legislation and severe punishment are essential to deal with food safety cases," Ruan Zanlin of East China University of Science and Technology in Shanghai, the survey's chief expert. "The public also criticized poor access to food safety information and government inefficiency in dealing with complaints on food safety."

Officials from the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration said similar surveys will be done every year.

Responding to worries, local food safety officials said they have conducted stricter inspections.

"About 80 percent of pork in Shanghai is from other provinces and 70 percent of that is from Henan Province," said Gu Zhenhua, vice director of the Shanghai Food Safety Office. "Shanghai has tightened inspections for lean pork powder. Last year, almost all samples of pig and pork products passed the lean pork powder test, the highest quality rate in local history."


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