Technology used in food safety fight

Updated 2017-08-31 16:01:02 Shanghai Daily

Modern technologies are helping Shanghai government to efficiently enforce a comprehensive set of food safety regulations.

On January 20, the Shanghai People's Congress updated a bill that first became effective in 2011. The new act contains 115 articles, changing 55 of 62 articles in the original bill and adding 53 new ones.

The updated act requires authorities to supervise the food industry during every step of food production and consumption. Food sources and storages must demonstrate information transparency and are subjected to inspections. Food transporters have to obtain licenses and maintain good hygiene, and food processors must follow protocols and may be asked to send their employees to receive training. Food retailers, including markets, restaurants, small vendors and Internet shops, need to register themselves and pass inspections, and even food recyclers are to mark all the recycled foods and process or destroy them afterwards.

The Internet and data science are aiding regulators to carry out these numerous regulations. Shanghai has built a database of food safety regulations and other information containing 104 million pieces of information among which are 4.8 million pieces related to specific individuals.

Shanghai's effort to transform scientific research into lucrative initiatives also helps with the successful enforcement of food safety policies. Tongji University developed a technology that transforms waste oil and fat into vehicle fuel. The government, which requires all catering service providers to hand in their waste oil, has cooperated with the university and 106 public buses and sanitation trucks have been running on waste oil for 43 months over a total distance of 13.6 million kilometers.

The food safety regulations have received social support. In a 2016 survey, 72.3 percent of the surveyed population felt satisfied about the food safety situation in Shanghai, marking a 2.2-percentage-point increase compared to the year before. Authorities continue to communicate with the entire society on food safety issues by holding regular press conferences, issuing annual reports, hiring supervisors from outside the government, and maintaining the 12331 hotline, which processed 42,000 calls last year.

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