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Beijing Authorities Strengthen Food Safety

Beijing food safety inspectors yesterday started a week-long visit to city construction sites to teach workers basic food poison protection.

Green beans are the biggest cause of food poisoning in the city's construction sites, having caused 10 out the total 14 outbreaks among construction workers during the past 10 months this year, said Deng Ying, deputy chief of the Disease Control of Health Supervisory Division of the Beijing Municipal Health Bureau.


"Since food for construction workers is stir-fried in huge cauldrons, beans can hardly be thoroughly cooked in a short time. Half-cooked beans are poisonous in some cases. However, a number of workers do not know this," said Deng.


He said food processing in construction sites is usually very simple, so the laborers there - most of whom are farmer-turned workers - are at high risk of food poisoning.


"For instance, a few years ago, most of the construction workers could not tell salt from nitrites, which is a chemical material used in construction and may cause death if be taken. Such nitrite poisoning incidents used to happen frequently in construction sites," said Deng.


"But after repeated worker education, the number of nitrite poisoning cases dropped dramatically," said Deng.


He said health workers will dispatch 100,000 free pamphlets of food safety to construction workers during this week.


The 50-page booklet contains not only introduction of how to tell whether beans are cooked thoroughly but also other knowledge of preventing various food poisoning and improving dietetic hygiene.


There are roughly 1.2 million construction workers in Beijing, nearly 1 million of whom are migrant workers.


"The food safety of such a large population needs more attention from related government departments," said Deng.


He revealed the municipal government is considering drawing up a local regulation on the management of food safety in construction sites.


(China Daily November 3, 2004)

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