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Food Safety in Limelight

Hoping to enhance Shanghai's food safety, especially during the upcoming summer season, the Shanghai municipal government Tuesday pledged to be vigilant against pesticide residue and heavy metal and toxic chemical traces that remain on the surface of vegetables, fish and meat products.

At a working conference held yesterday, all six food-related administrative bodies - ranging from vegetables, livestock and poultry, aquatic products, fruits to dairy products, crop and oil - unveiled firm plans on food safety supervision.

"More attention needs to be paid to food safety. It's the government's duty to protect public health," said Zhou Taitong, deputy secretary-general of the municipal government.

Starting this month, the Shanghai Vegetable Office will launch a citywide test for pesticide and chemical fertilizer content in 20,000 samples, covering 80 percent of local farms.

Meanwhile, the number of local farm samples selectively examined by the Ministry of Agriculture will also rise to 3,500 from last year's 2,800, said Zhang Sirong, deputy director of the vegetable office.

The office has so far installed 1,000 insect-killing lamps in 11 model farms and recommended 13 types of pesticide with low toxicity to farmers.

The city government has also decided to put clenbuterol, a chemical product used on pigs so that they only give lean meat, on its blacklist.

From now on, all of the city's 398 large-scale pig farms and 52 slaughter-houses will be covered by the monthly spot check, according to the Shanghai Livestock Office. In spot-checks during the first quarter, the office found that 95 percent of the 483 samples met the standards, said Qian Genxing, the office's deputy director.

Underground bean curd workshops and inferior bean products will not escape the dragnet either, with the city government planning a crackdown in the next four months.

"Illegal bean curd workshops and inferior bean products with counterfeit packaging are rampant in Shanghai," said Xia Bojin, an official of the Shanghai Commercial Commission. "And about half of the 600 legal processing factories can't meet the relevant local standard."

As a result, officials plan to shut down illegal workshops before September. About 30 percent of the licensed factories will also be closed for poor production quality, Xia said.

(eastday.com May 15, 2002)

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