A Beijing food and drug safety watchdog has clarified a rumor that links the sudden suspension of freshwater fish sales in many supermarkets in the city with water contamination.
Beijing's local food and drug administration published a notice on its official Weibo account on Wednesday that over 90 percent of aquatic products sold in the city pass quality inspections. It also said there were no signs that water pollution had contaminated freshwater fish.
A source from the China Food and Drug Administration (CFDA) revealed that the leakage of a planned inspection on food safety may have caused the sudden sales suspension.
The CFDA issued a memo on Nov. 17 that said it would launch a special inspection on seafood in 10 cities nationwide and that the inspection would include a check for residue from veterinary drugs. But it was somehow leaked that Beijing would be among the 10 cities, prompting vendors to stop selling products in a bid to evade examination.
The source said that the CFDA's confidentiality requirement failed to work and that vendors were still uncertain about their products' quality. "The diffident vendors chose to delist their products first," said the source.
Wumart's food safety manager said that its outlets began to suspend the sales of carp, bass and other live freshwater fishes in May and instead started offering chilled fish. But the manager also attributed the change to "normal corporate activity" as the supermarket needed to adjust products to suit consumers' demands.
But several local newspapers reported that Carrefour, Walmart, Yonghui Superstores and Wumart are among the 20 supermarket chains in east Beijing's suburban Tongzhou District that suspended selling live freshwater fish.
Staff members in the downtown BHG Xizhimen Store also said they received a notice from the group headquarters to delist all live freshwater products, adding there was no timetable for resumption of sales.