CHINA – Shanghai, one of the major economic and population centers of China, is set to enhance food safety inspection of the government’s gift packs for residents under lockdown, following some complaints about their quality.

According to Tao Ailian, a Senior Official of the Shanghai Administration for Market Regulation, the city’s market watchdog has found quality problems, mainly relating to fresh food, in some free gift packs distributed in local subdistricts and towns.

“The administration will crack down on violations strictly and quickly to prevent such incidents,” she told the city’s daily COVID-19 press briefing.

At least two districts in Shanghai’s east warned residents about problems with moldy braised duck and meatballs or issues with the packaging of food that had been distributed by the government to compounds still in lockdown.

Tao said the administration has analyzed the loopholes during the purchase, storage, transport and distribution of the food packs and released measures to ensure their quality.

The distribution organizers, for instance, must take responsibility for food safety management. They must sign contracts, check the business license and certificates of suppliers as well as inspect the quality of the products, the official pointed out.

The food suppliers or donors must take the main responsibility over quality. To ensure products conform with the nation’s food safety law and other food standards, the regulator will launch random checks on food packs.

The administration has released detailed stipulations on the purchase, storage, transport and distribution of supplies. For instance, food must be transported under cold chain and should not be exposed to the sun.

If any quality problem is detected, the distribution must be stopped immediately. Residents are also required to put the food in refrigerators immediately on receiving them and report to authorities in case of any quality problem.

The administration has also urged relevant personnel and entities to ensure food safety in the large amount of boxed meals provided by 216 local food firms to makeshift hospitals and quarantine sites and hotels.

Tao revealed that law enforcement officers will be based at companies supplying food to makeshift hospitals to oversee their production. Other companies are asked to undergo online video and on-site inspections as well as conduct self-monitoring.

The lockdown in Shanghai has been extended indefinitely to battle the highly infectious and immune-resistant Omicron BA.2 subvariant that has caused a record surge of infections in the country.

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