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Tip-offs give boost to Shanghai’s food-safety drive

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

© iStock
© iStock

Related tags Food safety Xinhua news agency

Whistleblowers in Shanghai provided tips and information to uncover 50 alleged food safety violations in the first-quarter of this year.

They have been spurred on by a regulation introduced last year that encourages consumers and food-industry workers in the city to report safety issues by offering financial incentives. So far this year, RMB52,600 (US$7,750) has been awarded to informants.

In recent years, food safety has been in the sights of Shanghai authorities, who often introduce new policies to help inspectors.

In one of these, which went live last week, the Food and Drug Supervision Administration’s food safety complaint centre launched a new mobile phone app, allows allows consumers to report a range of foodservice violations. 

The “Woodpecker​” app has been designed to be used to highlight cases where unusual substances are found in food, or where restaurants might be selling expired food. Its users can send on-site photos as evidence.

City authorities believe that food safety remains “organised and controllable​” in Shanghai, despite the huge number of companies involved in food production. 

Currently, some 256,000 food businesses operate in the city, according to official figures. More than 105,000 of these have been inspected so far this year, resulting in 1,697 violations and RMB14.3m (US$2.1m) of stock being confiscated.

The overall pass rate of inspections currently stands at 97.3%, the official Global Times ​news service reports.

Fifty-four criminal food safety violations were discovered, and 170 suspects were apprehended. One mass food-poisoning case was reported in the first quarter, leaving 46 people sick. So far no serious food safety incidents have been reported.

In terms of social supervision, the dedicated 12331 food-safety hotline has processed over 50,000 complaints this year—33.3% higher than the same period last year. Moreover, having shared some of the complaints with police, the hotline has provided evidence in 24 cases, leading to the arrest of five suspects.

The city released its figures as China’s vice-premier gave one of his regular pep talks to urge local governments, businesses and the public to work together to promote food safety.

Wang Yang said governments should improve efficiency of their supervision with “unified and professional action​”, and food suppliers should ensure farm-to-table product quality.

The media should cover food safety accidents objectively and the public should be encouraged to participate in food safety governance, the official Xinhua news agency reported him as saying.

Related topics Policy Food safety China East Asia

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