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January 29, 2013

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Stricter standards affect food ratings

Stricter national standards led to a decline in the city's food safety ratings last year, the Shanghai Food Safety Office said yesterday.

In 2012, 93 percent of food inspected was up to standard, 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," its report said.

Packaged meals, cooked food and aquatic products ranked at the bottom of the city's food safety list for containing excessive amounts of bacteria or banned chemicals.

Only 71.3 percent of packaged meals passed inspections, the worst in the ranking. Cooked food followed with 74.4 percent passing inspection while 77.3 percent of aquatic products met the required standards. Most of the aquatic products failed tests because they contained antibiotics or dyes linked to cancer, showing that banned drugs were still used to help seafood survive and appear fresh.

Tea, which ranked low for safety in 2011 for pesticide residue, improved last year, with 92 percent of products passing food safety tests, 14 percentage points higher than the year before.

Plant oil and dairy and bean products were among a range of other foodstuffs that earned 100 percent pass rates.

Last year, Shanghai uncovered 334 illegal workshops which produced substandard bottled water, moon cakes and soya-bean milk, according to the report.

This year the city aims to have at least 94 percent of the food most commonly eaten by residents meet standards and will provide at least 40 hours of food safety training to food store and restaurant heads and their key employees, the food office's report said.

Wang Gang, one of the city's political advisers, is urging that the government build a website to promote food safety information and help residents understand the potential risks in the food that they eat.


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