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Markets' beef warning

THE heads of five major wet food markets in the city yesterday decided to ban beef that has been injected with water to increase its weight.

Stalls in any of the five markets selling water-injected beef will be expelled and banned from selling at the other four.

A monitoring system and a blacklist will be set up to keep track of violators. Each beef stall in Cao'an market will need to pay the market authority 100,000 yuan (US$14,631) as deposit against future violations, said Kang Zude, the general manager.

Each of the five markets, at Cao'an, Beicai, Jiangyang, Zhuanqiao and Qibao areas, has been equipped with facilities to check the water content of beef. Cao'an and Jiangyang markets have already made rules for violators.

Any stall selling beef that contains more than 77 percent water will be fined on the spot. Second-time violators will be banned.

National standards on beef say the meat's water content should be less than 77 percent. Shanghai has a daily demand for 500 head of cattle. Half of the beef in Shanghai is sold at the five markets.

Gu Zhenhua, director of the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration's food safety department, said yesterday that the authorities had received complaints about beef recently and had decided to launch a campaign to solve the problem. "The blacklist system can impose pressure on beef sellers, who should sign documents with wet markets in order to sell authorized beef," he said.

"The market and the FDA will launch checkups on beef products and those found to be selling beef with a high water content will be named in the blacklist and thrown out of the market eventually."

He said the wet markets will also take responsibility if repeatedly found to be housing illegal sellers.

"We will impose fines, ask the market to stop business and pull its license if violations are severe," he said.

"We will also release an educational program to teach local residents how to identify beef with a high water content and the health risks of eating such beef if the water is tainted."


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