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May 17, 2014

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Dining places come under scrutiny

FOOD safety officials in Xuhui District have launched a crackdown on unlicensed eateries following disappointing results in recent spot checks.

When deputies to the Shanghai People’s Congress visited 10 dining places in Xuhui and neighboring Changning District on Thursday, nine were found to be unregistered.

The one that was able to provide documentation was found to have been licensed outside Shanghai.

Fu Rongjun, deputy director of the Xuhui food safety office, told Shanghai Daily that officials in the area have been struggling with the problem of unlicensed eateries for years.

According to official figures, in the sub-districts of Changqiao and Lingyun, and Huajing Town there are almost 200 unlicensed diners. Many are run by people who relocated to the neighborhood after their homes in central and northern parts of Xuhui were demolished as part of a city redevelopment plan.

Local communities were ill-equipped to deal with the huge influx of people and as a result, many illegal eateries opened to meet the new demand.

The situation is similar in the Fenglin, Xietu and Hunan sub-districts, which have about 180 unlicensed diners.

Many of them have been open for less than a year and are operated by people from out of town, a food official said.

Several are situated in ground floor apartments, which are banned from hosting commercial operations because of the safety risks, he said.

In a crackdown on a residential complex on Longwu Road, investigators found almost 30 such eateries, none of which were licensed.

In the wake of their shocking discoveries, lawmakers said landlords should be held responsible if unlicensed diners are found in their buildings.

But they said also that small businesses should be given more help to operate legally.

“It is not right to ban all unlicensed food stalls because some have sound reasons to exist. Also, they represent the culture of the city,” lawmaker Jin Yonghong said.

Fu said the food safety office might allow unlicensed diners to remain open, as long as they are not the subject of too many complaints. They will, however, remain under close watch.



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