Outdoor barbecue ban leaves some disappointed

Updated: 2014-05-05 08:20

By Zheng Xin (China Daily)

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In anticipation of summer, Beijinger Wang Yu looks forward to outdoor meals with family and friends - skewers of mutton sizzling over barbecue pits and piles of cold marinated peanuts washed down with a beer.

But a new ban starting this month on restaurants offering barbecues and serving cold dishes in the open in the capital has left residents like Wang disappointed.

The move is part of authorities' latest efforts to improve environmental and food hygiene standards.

Under the new regulation on the outdoor management of restaurants, barbecues, together with making and serving cold dishes in the open, will be banned throughout the city.

All outdoor food outlets should also be equipped with water, drainage and power facilities and be at least 25 meters from places like outdoor dumpsites, cesspools and toilets.

Businesses that illegally barbecue food outside can be fined up to 20,000 yuan ($3,200) and have their barbecue equipment confiscated.

Members of the public can also alert authorities to any violations.

Foods such as soybeans and peanuts should be cooked and served warm to avoid unhygienic practices. The same applies to meat dishes, authorities said.

Other than improving food safety, the ban is also aimed at reducing air pollution in the city, the Beijing Commission of Commerce said.

Many residents like Wang, 27, who works in a bank, found the regulation too harsh.

"It's weird to have some dishes served hot in the intense summer heat," he said.

"You cannot restrict people's eating preferences, and it's ridiculous for the government to leave the polluting industries alone, while blaming outdoor barbecues for the hazy days."

City agencies including the Beijing Commission of City Administration and Environment, the Beijing Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement and the Beijing Food and Drug Administration also contributed in drafting the interim procedures.

According to the city administration agencies, many outdoor food peddlers set up their tables without authorization and become obstructions on streets, underpasses and other public areas.

Under the new rules, restaurants that do not dispose of food waste properly also face a fine of up to 50,000 yuan.

There have been more than 4,000 cases of unlicensed and unhygienic food practices involving outdoor barbecues in the past four months, figures from the Beijing Bureau of City Administration and Law Enforcement showed.

But some of the usual outdoor food spots in the city's Guanganmen and Baizhifang areas did not hold any illegal barbecues during the May Day holiday, the bureau said.

Many restaurants have also installed smoke vents to allow for indoor barbecues, it said.

Zhang Shuxia, from the urban management enforcement authority for the Dongcheng district in Beijing, said supervision will be stepped up this summer to enforce the latest food and environmental standards.

To avoid conflict with diners, officers will film illegal behavior at night and visit restaurants in the day to raise awareness of the regulation and the penalties involved, Zhang said.

zhengxin@chnadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 05/05/2014 page7)

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