Shanghai's regulation allowing unlicensed small food businesses to operate legally if they register their operation with neighborhood authorities becomes effective next month.
More than 190 small food operators across the city have registered in a trial, the food watchdog announced yesterday.
The registration is a temporary process, however, and runs for three years.
The aim is to allow popular small food operators to survive, but to weed out businesses that don't meet food safety, hygiene, fire safety and environmental requirements or that cause noise and pollution. Offending operators will not be allowed to register, said Xu Jin, deputy director of Shanghai Food and Drug Administration.
"The regulation is issued to serve the demand of the public for delicious and safe food with local specialty," said Xu.
Once obtained, the temporary registration card should be displayed prominently, along with catering health certificates, and records of food purchases must be kept, and a clean environment maintained.
Food businesses inside residential complexes are only allowed to serve steamed and boiled food or drinks that produce no smoke.
Xu said that in downtown areas, some residents object to catering businesses.
"We are restricting the business model of food operators inside residential communities to minimize the impact," said Xu.
Neighborhood governments must hear the opinions of nearby residents and property management companies before giving a green light to small food businesses, the regulation states.
Small catering providers will be shut down if they are the cause of frequent complaints by nearby residents or if they are involved in food safety incidents.
Xu said small businesses are encouraged to run licensed stores and they should obtain an eatery license after three years.
Prior to the implementation of the regulation, the administration started a trial at 21 neighborhoods in 16 districts from late May.
In total, 193 small businesses have been registered.
A spicy hotpot eatery in Jiangqiao Town in Jiading District was registered in May. It had operated six months without a license before that.
"I had applied for a license several times, but failed for hygiene and (for being in a) housing property," said Sun Fengchao, who operates the restaurant.
He spent 3,000 yuan (US0) renovating the kitchen, and bought an oil-water separator and disinfection cabinet to meet hygiene requirements. A real-time surveillance camera has been installed to allow diners to observe what goes on in the kitchen.
"Getting registered means we can operate the restaurant without worries because our restaurant is protected by law now," Sun said.
"Many diners care about whether restaurants have licenses, and our business revenue has increased nearly 30 percent daily after getting the registration," he said.
Food stalls that specialize in Taiwan dishes at Shilin night market in Jinjiang Amusement Park also obtained registration.
"Many small food businesses lost to urban development and I missed food vendors selling traditional Shanghai breakfasts like dabing (Chinese pancakes) and youtiao (a fried dough stick) during my childhood," said Shen Chao, a resident who grew up in Huangpu District.
"It is a pleasant thing to eat at small businesses with local taste if they can ensure food safety and don't disturb others' lives, and I think the regulations are welcome."