Mar­kets de­but food safety tests

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By ZHOU WENTING in Shang­hai zhouwent­ing@chi­nadaily.com.cn

More food safety labs will soon be es­tab­lished in mar­kets across the city, ac­cord­ing to the city’s food safety commission of­fice.

Shang­hai is among the first cities in China to have labs in farm­ers mar­kets that pro­vide free and fast food safety eval­u­a­tions that test for il­le­gal ad­di­tives and ex­ces­sive pes­ti­cide residues. There are a to­tal of 20 labs, each of which mea­sures about 4 square me­ters in size, in Shang­hai’s Yangpu, Pu­tuo and Pudong New Area dis­tricts.

Wuhan in Hubei prov­ince and Changchun in Jilin prov­ince have built sim­i­lar labs in farm­ers mar­ket as well.

At these labs, of­fi­cers from the In­dus­try and Com­merce Ad­min­is­tra­tion per­form daily tests on ran­dom sam­ples of veg­eta­bles, fruits, meat and dairy prod­ucts and the re­sults are dis­played on a big screen at the en­trance of the mar­ket. Once a month, con­sumers can also come for­ward to have the pro­duce they bought from the mar­ket tested.

There are 20 pa­ram­e­ters in the tests, in­clud­ing pes­ti­cide and heavy metal residue lev­els in veg­eta­bles, flu­o­rescer lev­els in mush­rooms and the pres­ence of the mus­cle­en­hanc­ing drug rac­topamine in meat.

Pork con­tain­ing rac­topamine is banned in China. Rac­topamine, also known as lean meat pow­der, came into the spot­light in March 2011 when Shuanghui Group, the coun­try’s largest meat-pro­cess­ing com­pany, was found to have pur­chased pigs that had been fed with the sub­stance.

Food safety has been a key con­cern among Chi­nese over the past decade.

In 2008, melamine-tainted baby for­mula led to the deaths of six chil­dren and au­thor­i­ties have since been tak­ing in­creased mea­sures to win back the public’s con­fi­dence in food safety.

A test for melamine in milk for­mula takes only five min­utes at these labs, said a lab worker at a farm­ers mar­ket on Guohe Road in Yangpu district.

“All you have to do is place two drops of milk on the test pa­per. The sam­ple is melamine-neg­a­tive if one line is shown af­ter five min­utes. It’s melamine-pos­i­tive if two lines are seen,” said the lab worker sur­named Gao.

Gao added that no prob­lems have been de­tected with milk for­mu­las at the mar­ket since the lab was set up in early Fe­bru­ary.

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