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February 8, 2013

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Most tainted food due to germs, additives, residue

EXCESSIVE microbes, additives and pesticide residues were blamed for more than 99 percent of food contamination cases last year, the city's food safety watchdog said yesterday.

About 97 percent of food products such as cakes, salad, cooked food and bean products that failed quality checks had excessive microbes, the Shanghai Food Safety Office said.

Excessive microbes are caused by poor hygiene during production and sales, poor disinfection and poor awareness of food safety, experts said.

The city reported seven group poisoning cases involving 144 who fell ill last year, all caused by excessive microbes. No deaths were reported.

Most of those were caused by workers' poor food safety awareness.

Samples of major ice cream brands including Cold Stone, Dairy Queen, Andersen's of Denmark and Baskin Robbins were found with excessive bacteria by the Shanghai Consumer Protection Commission in August.

Similar problems hit Shanghai-based Bright Dairy. Batches of the dairy giant's butter and cheese were found to contain excessive bacteria in Guangzhou in July.

Fruit preserves of Laiyifen, a well-known snack food chain store in Shanghai, were found early last year with high levels of artificial sweeteners, food coloring and bleaching agents, which are harmful to the liver and kidneys.

Most of the imported foods destroyed or returned last year by the city's inspection and quarantine authorities were found to have excessive additives, veterinary drug residues and bacteria.

About 3.9 tons of cinnamon bread made by IKEA were destroyed for containing excessive bacteria in September.

In 2012, 93 percent of food inspected was up to standard in food safety risk monitoring, but that was 1.1 percentage points lower than in the previous year, the office said.

Some national food safety standards have been upgraded and included more appraisal items, officials said.

Last year, some 168 residents received rewards for reporting food-related irregularities and one resident got 200,000 yuan (US$32,258), the highest reward, for reporting fake health products.


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