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April 19, 2012

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City gets serious about food safety

SHANGHAI'S food safety watchdog is tightening up its crackdown against harmful food-production practices, increasing inspections and offering rewards for people who report problems.

Since the beginning of last year, authorities have cracked 80 food-safety cases and arrested 180 businessmen, Yan Zuqiang, director of the Shanghai Food Safety Office, said yesterday.

On a far greater scale, more than 7,000 local food manufacturers had their licenses revoked by the food safety watchdog for violations such as selling unsafe food, using substandard cooking oils or illegal additives, and more than 8,000 unlicensed food businesses have been shut down, Yan said.

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 were busted.

The city's food safety hotline 12331 has received more than 6,000 reports from locals since opening three months ago. The office yesterday said much of the information was valuable but did not specify a percentage.

Those offering tips to help crack down major food safety crimes can get awards of up to 200,000 yuan.

The watchdog is also planning to improve street food safety by better regulation later this year. Local residents will find more convenient breakfast and snack carts on the street with safer sanitation conditions and higher food quality as the government is to expand temporary snack zones in designated areas under strict supervision.

Some trial schemes, such as putting street food stalls inside the Gumei neighborhood in Minhang District and the Zhenxin neighborhood in Jiading District, have proved effective and welcomed by residents, officials said.

The breakfast and other snack vendors are allowed just several hours on the sides of the streets and workers must clean the streets at the end of each day. Only licensed vendors are allowed to operate inside the zones.

The initiative is meant to boost the supply of quality breakfasts and snacks to meet the huge demand among commuters.

Many commuters now buy breakfast from unlicensed mobile stalls on street corners because it's convenient.

"It will be a helpful change but I hope the government could bear in mind the convenient accessibility to office workers when they choose where to locate more such breakfast zones," said Zhao Yan, a company worker and daily Metro commuter.


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