Districts trial food safety stickers
Seals on take-away and online-delivery food bags are being trialed in some Shanghai districts before being promoted across the city next year in the latest effort to ensure food safety, Shanghai's food watchdog announced on Tuesday.
The seals will prevent contamination during delivery, the Shanghai Administration for Market Regulation said.
Some 2.2 million seals are being trialed in Xuhui, Minhang and the Pudong New Area.
By 2020, they will be promoted citywide and all online delivery platforms will be involved in the scheme, the administration said.
"We found some irregularities in the food delivery process, which pose food contamination hazards and lead to disputes," said Zhu Ziming, director of the administration's food coordination department. "It is difficult to determine responsibility when disputes arise."
In 2017, a delivery driver with Meituan Dianping was captured by an elevator camera opening a meal, eating some of it and then spitting it back in the container before delivery. He was fired.
"The design of the sticker avoids it being used again once torn off, thus lowers the possibility of food being polluted during delivery and regulates the delivery process," said Zhu. "It also makes the responsibility of eateries and delivery persons clear once food is found contaminated after being delivered."
Catering businesses can design their own stickers or use those designed by the city's food authorities or online food delivery platforms Ele.me and Meituan Dianping, which make about 2 million deliveries a day in Shanghai. The two platforms will have distributed around 5 million stickers to restaurants by the end of this month, according to the administration.
"A promotional campaign on the sticker will be hosted citywide from September to December to raise awareness of the sticker, thus pushing eateries and food delivery platforms to use it," said Zhu.
"A survey found that food safety is the major concern of people ordering food from delivery platforms," said Fu Rongjun, deputy director of Xuhui District's market regulation administration.
The administration has released a standard for the seal.
"It covers seven parts such as the function, type, sign and mechanical properties of the seal, as well as environmental protection requirements," Fu said.
"We will step up promotion in areas such as office buildings and campuses to make consumers aware of the seal, making it a lock for take-away and delivered food," he said.
If abnormal items are found in food, the sticker helps determine whether catering businesses or delivery staff should be blamed, said Bu Jutao with Ele.me.
The cost of the stickers is covered by both the app and eateries, he said.
Meituan Dianping said the seal provides proof in the case of disputes and is mulling over the practice that consumers can refuse to take the food if the seal is broken or missing when they receive the food.