A few days before authorities in Shanghai announced they had shut down a dairy and arrested local businessmen for adulterating milk products with melamine, a toxic industrial chemical, official Chinese media were touting the city’s renewed food safety efforts in preparation for next year’s World Expo.
Chinese officials estimate that 85 percent of the 70 million expected visitors were expected to eat inside the Expo zone during the event, which runs from May to October. The Expo zone will feature over 130 restaurants as well as traditional Chinese street food.
“A better control of overall food safety and proper preparation for next year’s World Expo are our current top tasks,” said Xie Minqiang, deputy director of Shanghai Food and Drug Administration, at a December press conference.
“We will start trial operations in April and all the food supervision procedures including drills will be tested repeatedly before the World Expo officially kicks off,” added Gu Zhenhua, director of Shanghai FDA’s food supervision department.
Xinhua reported in late December that the city’s government was ramping up supervision activities–a move that may have led to the dairy closure last week.
The publication also noted that Shanghai had seen record-low food poisonings in 2009. “Thanks to tighter food management and increased awareness, the number of food poisoning cases had dropped greatly,” reported Xinhua. “Shanghai had about 30 incidents with 2,000 people affected each between 2000 and 2005,” according to government data, in 2009 there were only 139 illnesses reported.