A customer uses an orange juice vending machine at Madang Road metro station. (Jiang Xiaowei)
Shanghai's food watchdog has ordered the operator of 120 vending machines offering freshly squeezed orange juice to carry out checks following social media reports of black residue and moldy fruit being found in the dispensed products.
Three photographs posted online appeared to show black residue in a cup of juice with the anonymous blogger claiming it had come from a Vingoo machine and accusing the operator of failing to keep the machine clean and ignoring food safety.
Vingoo machines can be seen at subway stations and department stores across the city.
In the aftermath of the blog post, the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration yesterday held talks with Shanghai Geant Investment Co Ltd, which owns the vending machines.
It asked the company to verify whether there was any truth in the online post and urged it to ensure that the cleaning and maintenance of its vending machines is carried out regularly and in a proper manner.
There have been similar claims of moldy oranges in other online posts which include photographs.
In response, Vingoo said its machines are cleaned and disinfected on a regular basis. The use of the machines in the photos, which were first generation models, was discontinued in September 2015, the company claimed, adding that its current vending machines are third generation models.
The vending machines, dozens of them, first hit the local market in March 2014 but they were soon ordered to cease operation over moldy and rotten oranges and licensing problems.
At the time, authorities said the way the oranges were stored in the machine as well as the defective disinfection techniques posed a safety hazard. The company was told to upgrade the machines to eliminate public health risks.
Following improvements, the administration organized experts to conduct several rounds of evaluation and the company received Shanghai's first license for "freshly made food" after it passed tests.
Its 120 orange juice vending machines were then allowed to operate in Shanghai. The company continues to be the only operator of such machines in the metropolis.