Markets debut food safety tests

By Zhou Wenting in Shanghai | China Daily USA | Updated: 2017-03-17 10:25

More food safety labs will soon be established in markets across the city, according to the city's food safety commission office.

Shanghai is among the first cities in China to have labs in farmers markets that provide free and fast food safety evaluations that test for illegal additives and excessive pesticide residues. There are a total of 20 labs, each of which measures about 4 square meters in size, in Shanghai's Yangpu, Putuo and Pudong New Area districts.

Wuhan in Hubei province and Changchun in Jilin province have built similar labs in farmers market as well.

At these labs, officers from the Industry and Commerce Administration perform daily tests on random samples of vegetables, fruits, meat and dairy products and the results are displayed on a big screen at the entrance of the market. Once a month, consumers can also come forward to have the produce they bought from the market tested.

There are 20 parameters in the tests, including pesticide and heavy metal residue levels in vegetables, fluorescer levels in mushrooms and the presence of the muscle-enhancing drug ractopamine in meat.

Pork containing ractopamine is banned in China. Ractopamine, also known as lean meat powder, came into the spotlight in March 2011 when Shuanghui Group, the country's largest meat-processing company, was found to have purchased pigs that had been fed with the substance.

Food safety has been a key concern among Chinese over the past decade.

In 2008, melamine-tainted baby formula led to the deaths of six children and authorities have since been taking increased measures to win back the public's confidence in food safety.

A test for melamine in milk formula takes only five minutes at these labs, said a lab worker at a farmers market on Guohe Road in Yangpu district.

"All you have to do is place two drops of milk on the test paper. The sample is melamine-negative if one line is shown after five minutes. It's melamine-positive if two lines are seen," said the lab worker surnamed Gao.

Gao added that no problems have been detected with milk formulas at the market since the lab was set up in early February.

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