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July 26, 2012

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Mayor Han focuses on food safety

MEAT, dairy products and edible oil are to be put under more stringent government quality inspections later this year as Shanghai seeks to secure a safer food market, Mayor Han Zheng said yesterday.

"We will focus on cracking down on unsafe food businesses with tougher punishments and intensified daily inspections," Han said at a meeting with city lawmakers yesterday.

The mayor said up to 80 percent of pork supplied in Shanghai is under strict daily monitoring by the government food safety watchdog. That covers nearly all that's provided at major food markets across town. The pork is being tested for toxic lean meat powder or several banned chemicals that causes the pigs to produce leaner meat to boost profits.

The 20 percent currently out of daily supervision is mostly supplied by some small markets. The government is endeavoring to expand inspections to cover this area completely with daily quality checks by the end of the year, the mayor said.

Shanghai is preparing to adopt the same test on lamb and beef to ensure neither of them has the contaminant, Han added.

Dairy products also have had quality inspections reinforced. Han said a team of government specialists have begun performing on-site quality tests at local milk factories, including four that produce baby formula on a daily basis. The site tests ensure better reliability of results compared with the previous practice by manufacturers of sending samples to government labs.

Shanghai Food and Drug Administration is now conducting surprise checks that cover at least 15 percent of the monthly output of each local dairy manufacturer, much more than before, the mayor said.

In 2008, six Chinese babies died from kidney damages after drinking melamine-laced formula or milk products and some 300,000 became sick.

Meanwhile, Shanghai government is planning to raise the purchase price of legally recycled kitchen oil to motivate licensed recyclers. The scheme is meant to discourage recyclers from selling waste oil to underground mills that recycle it to resell it as food oil.

The mayor said up to 1,519 food businesses citywide had their licenses revoked in the first half of this year for breaking food safety laws and 2,700 operations producing food without a license were busted.

Han called on tougher criminal punishments for violations against those legally responsible for food businesses to help improve food safety.


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