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November 14, 2013

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Feasting on food tip-off rewards

CONCERNED citizens who provided food safety tip-offs shared a tasty 247,000 yuan (US$39,839) in rewards from the local food safety authority between January and last month.

The 12331 food safety complaints and reporting hotline received 44,605 reports and gave 491 rewards, reported Xinmin Evening News.

Officials said protecting people who provide tip-offs is key to improving food safety management in Shanghai.

Yang Quan, director of the 12331 hotline, said food safety whistleblowers can leave their full name, a surname or opt for anonymity and instead leave a code for contact.

And once a tip-off is confirmed correct, they need only leave bank account details to receive their reward, without ever having to show up.

“Food safety cases are difficult for outsiders or the government to uncover and to build up sufficient evidence. In these cases, insiders are the most credible informants,” Yang said.

All hotline operating staff have received training and signed agreement to protect the identity of informants.”

This year, nearly 69 percent of cases that the hotline passed to relevant government departments were confirmed — 13 percent higher than the same time last year.

The tip-off reward initiative was introduced to help tackle food safety scandals and crimes.

Once confirmed, the whistleblower receives a reward worth 5 percent of the case value.

This is at least 500 yuan and up to 200,000 yuan.

Rewards are also paid for cases involving in blood products and medicines. For these — and for cases of food that causes severe damage — the reward is doubled.

The hotline procedure for applying for a reward has also been streamlined this year.

The number of tips the hotline received in the first quarter this year was 45 percent of last year’s figure. Rewards paid out in the first quarter were 40 percent of last year’s total.



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