Photo from Shanghai Daily
Despite the new food safety law implemented in 2009 and a local push to up standards during Expo, Shanghai just cant seem to keep crazy shit out of its food. In the last four months alone, we found poppies in our hot pot, toxins on our oranges, chemical brighteners on our mushrooms, drainage oil still lurking around and possibly some cat in our mutton. Authorities have reacted with new food safety regulations, released in draft form yesterday and expected to be implemented by the second half of this year. Their target? Street vendors.
Shanghai did a survey in October of 650 mobile food stalls (there are at least 10,000 throughout the city) and found what’s probably unsurprising to most of us: only 106 had health licenses and only 15-16 had business or eatery licenses.
The new regulation would target these vendors along with small food processors, with a focus on food management, preparation and hygiene. Their plans seem a bit over-ambitious, requiring stalls to register with a subdistrict, regulating location, working times and types of food sold.
That’s all well and good (and necessary, although sometimes the best places have the frowney-face rating…) but our street vendors are only one small part of food contamination. From Shanghai Daily:
Local lawmaker Zhu Yanwen acknowledged that it was vital to regulate individual food preparation centers and mobile street vendors.
But when these have problems with hygiene or illegal additives, a limited number of people are affected, Zhu added.
The regulations should also contain clauses addressing supervision of dairy and livestock industries, said Zhu, as their practices impact on a huge number of people.
“It will lead to disastrous consequences and many people will be affected if these products are contaminated during the production process,” said Zhu.
The whole thing leaves Shanghai residents still totally clueless as to how we can avoid poisoning ourselves. Quicker dissemination of food safety information is a good step, and one that the government promised to take back in November. But until there is proper oversight in food production and processing, we can really only guess which product might be next, and shop at local import or organic stores accordingly.