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July 30, 2014

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Survey finds little appetite for food safety hotline

LESS than a fifth of Shanghai residents would use the city food safety tip-off hotline, a survey has found.

When asked which number they would call over food safety problems, just 18 percent of those polled said they would choose the city’s 12331 food safety complaints hotline.

More than 81 percent of those questioned in the National People’s Congress education, science, cultural and health commission poll said they would not report food safety problems to the authorities.

They cited a lack of knowledge about the complaints channel and thought that the process would be troublesome.

The commission did not say how many people were polled.

Lawmakers admitted that more needed to be done to promote the hotline service, which offers rewards for tip-offs.

But they also insisted that the situation is improving.

Last year, whistleblowers shared 395,000 yuan (US$63,709) in 784 rewards for providing food safety tip-offs in Shanghai.

This was four times as many rewards as for the previous year, although the total sum paid out was up just over 6 percent on 2012.

However, in 2012 one reward of 200,000 yuan — the maximum sum available — was paid out, accounting for almost half the total sum.

The tip-off reward initiative was introduced in 2012 to help tackle food safety crimes.

The authorities have sought to improve the application procedure, with officials offering assistance in applying for a reward if a tip-off is correct.

Once confirmed, the whistleblower receives a reward of 5 percent of the case value — with a minimum of 500 yuan.

They can leave their name or opt for anonymity and instead provide a code for contact.


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