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Serving utensils should be required at eateries to stop spread of illness, political adviser says

CHOPSTICKS and spoons for serving dishes are not provided at local restaurants, which greatly increases the risk of spreading illnesses because people dip their own chopsticks into dishes used by everyone, a city political adviser said.

Li Rongrong, director of Shanghai Museum’s exhibition design department, submitted a proposal at the annual session of the Shanghai People’s Congress that restaurants be required to provide public utensils that are used only for serving.

Li said to avoid endangering residents’ health, restaurants should be required to guide diners to form the habit of using public serving cutlery.

Li said she had had proposed the same thing to the city’s Food and Drug Administration last year. However, she said she was dissatisfied with the FDA reply, which was that they would consider adding her advice to a local regulation for restaurants, while she said no action was taken to change things.

“I think it is a very urgent issue to advocate citizens’ use of public chopsticks and spoons, especially after we experienced SARS and H7N9 bird flu,” Li said.

Li said the tradition of Chinese people eating from one dish can transmit microbes from the mouth and stomach. It would also result in food waste since no one likes to take home food with others’ saliva.

Li said one of her foreign guests once refused to have dinner after seeing that diners used their own chopsticks to pick up food from one dish.

According to Li’s observations, most restaurants in Shanghai don’t offer public serving chopsticks and spoons to diners. Some waiters even refused Li’s requests and claimed they didn’t have extra chopsticks or spoons.

“I think the FDA should provide training to restaurant managers, waiters and waitresses to guide diners to change old habits to protect public heath,” Li said.


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