Guangzhou supermarkets fail food safety inspection

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 30 September, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 30 September, 2006, 12:00am

A pre-holiday inspection has found 20 per cent of food and food products sold at Guangzhou's supermarkets, including ParknShop, have failed food safety tests.

The Commerce Bureau, which carried out the inspection, found the problem most serious in big supermarkets and among soya and cooked meat products, with 70 per cent of soya products and 57.5 per cent of meat products failing tests.

In one case, the presence of E. coli exceeded permitted limits by more than 160 times.

Of 45 products found to have excessive levels of E. coli and other bacteria, Trust Mart, a Taiwanese supermarket, accounted for nine. A ParknShop outlet and the Japanese-owned Jusco accounted for seven cases each and four cases each were found in Thai-owned supermarket Lotus and German-owned supermarket Makro.

Other products failed tests because of labelling and packaging problems.

The defective products have been removed from shelves and sealed and the supermarkets have been ordered to pay fines of three times the value of the goods.

The bureau blamed the supermarkets for not carrying out quality tests when they took delivery of the products but said they had co-operated with the inspection.

The Commerce Bureau inspected 14 supermarkets and covered 307 products in 16 food groups including yoghurt, canned food and vegetables, bread, pickled vegetables, dried seafood, rice, biscuits, oats, wine and cooked meat.

A student shopping at the ParknShop near Sun Yat-sen University said there were foods he would buy and others he would not, like roast chicken and pork ribs.

'I don't know how long they have kept them so I won't buy. I will only buy things with a fast turnover,' he said.

Ng Yu-king, a Hong Kong woman who spends two weeks each month in Guangzhou, said she usually bought fresh vegetables and eggs from the ParknShop branch near Sun Yat-sen University.

'I am afraid the cooked food kept on counters, especially cold dishes, for too long will be contaminated because there are too many people in the supermarket,' she said. 'You can't trust even big supermarkets. The commerce bureau has to carry out more inspections.'

Ms Ng, who lives in Fangcun district, said she did not shop in neighbourhood supermarkets but made the 45-minute trip to the supermarket every two weeks to buy her groceries because it gave her a her receipt and she could return if she had any complaints.

A ParknShop spokesman said the supermarket had removed all problem foods and had asked the suppliers involved to halt deliveries as soon as it had received notification from the Commerce Bureau.