Shanghai Food and Drug Administration and other local watchdogs handled 7,240 suspicious food safety cases last year, down 19.4 percentage points from 2015.
The cases involved illegal food processing and adulteration, using illegal additives such as poppy shells in crawfish and beef soup and sildenafil. There was also the issue of growing cross-regional online sales of fake and inferior food, which is more covert and posed major challenges to the investigations.
A total of 320 suspects were captured by police in 159 cases. So far, 129 suspects have been charged and 63 sentenced to jail.
As high as 14,147 licenses of food production companies were canceled or revoked. Violators were fined 163 million yuan (US$23.7 million), up 131.6 percentage points from 2015.
Shanghai FDA has worked with Shanghai Exit-Entry Inspection and Quarantine Bureau and Shanghai Municipal Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision to punish 49,000 enterprises that had violated food safety rules, up 58.1 percentage points from 2015.
With a revised reward system for food safety tip-offs and improved services, Shanghai FDA received 106,942 food safety complaints, tip-offs and consultations last year, up 28.2 percentage points from 2015, of which 96.1 percent were closed.
Of the total, 41.8 percent were complaints and tip-offs that involved bad food served in unsanitary restaurants, restaurants that failed to control indoor smoking, bad meat products and unlicensed meat vendors, mildewed rice and baked goods, as well as some aquatic products with banned additives and unlicensed aquatic products processing.
A total of 766,300 yuan were handed out as rewards.
About 69.3 percent of the cases were received through the 12331 hotline, a channel for receiving food safety questions and tip-offs. About 21 percent were received through another hotline 12345. Foreigners also called the hotlines to report and file complaints, the authority said.
In general, food in the city is safe and the food quality has improved in recent years, according to the FDA’s annual spot check data. The supervision and monitoring will be further stepped up year by year, officials said.