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Testing times for festival food safety in China

(Xinhua)    07:20, February 05, 2016

BEIJING, Feb. 4 -- Mobile apps, free pesticide detection, live broadcast of kitchens... Government agencies across China are thinking up new ways to ensure food safety during Spring Festival.

Residents in north China's Hebei Province can download a mobile app to check the authenticity and quality of products and file complaints. The app is connected to a huge database of sampling information collected by the administration in the last three years. By scanning the bar code, a customer knows whether a product has passed quality inspection or how many times it failed in the past.

"The app has been downloaded more than 120,000 times which effectively means we have recruited that many food and drug inspectors," said Liang Zhigang, director of the administration's sci-tech information department.

At dinnertime in Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang Province, diners waiting outside a popular restaurant can watch what is going on in the kitchen on TV monitors.

"Our kitchen is no longer 'staff only', as we welcome customer supervision," said manager Zhang Biao.

According to Zhejiang Food Industry Association, the provincial government has spent nearly 80 million yuan (12 million U.S. dollars) installing cameras in over 4,000 school and restaurant kitchens.

In Taizhou not far from Hangzhou, an LED panel at the entrance of a wet market shows inspection information for the vegetables and meat sold inside. A laboratory also offers free pesticide detection for shoppers.

"Besides running a fast test on fresh vegetables and fruit, we sample at least 20 products from the market and display the result on the screen," said Lu Shanshan, a technician from the lab.

Of 800 wet markets in urban Zhejiang, over 500 now have free fast test labs, said Lu Yongfu, deputy director of the provincial food and drug administration.

"The labs ran five and half million tests last year," Lu said.

The province plans cameras for another 2,000 kitchens this year and 200 urban wet markets will be renovated, meaning over 70 percent of these markets will have their own labs.

In southern China's Guangdong, where human infections with H7N9 and H5N6 influenza were reported in the past years, the province has ordered all poultry to be butchered collectively and kept chilled before delivery.

Guangdong has more than 10,000 food safety inspectors, and has recruited over 21,000 assistants from communities and villages.

Last Thursday, the central government demanded most rigorous standards, strictest supervision and severe punishment for food crimes.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Editor:Liang Jun,Bianji)

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