Video boost for vegetable import surveillance

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 13 March, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 13 March, 2010, 12:00am

Shenzhen authorities have set up two electronic systems to monitor the safety of vegetables being exported to Hong Kong.

The two systems costing more than a million yuan (HK$1.13 million) were installed after the mainland passed its first food safety law in September.

One is a closed-circuit television network that scrutinises all vegetable processing companies in Shenzhen. Video cameras record how vegetables arrive at processing plants, how staff test pesticide levels, how they process vegetables and how vehicles take the products to the border.

All footage is monitored by officers of the Shenzhen Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau at the Man Kam To border post.

The other system records each processing company's information, including the quarantine results of their vegetables, certificates approving their supply and details of vehicles carrying the products to the city.

It makes sure all monitoring procedures are completed before the vegetables are driven across the border, director of plant inspection and quarantine Wang Jun said. For example, trucks would be stopped if records showed the vegetables they carried had not passed quarantine or if they were not registered in the system.

While the new systems were expected to speed up checks, Wang did not say how many more trucks could be inspected.

Last year the bureau checked about 2,700 trucks at the border, or seven a day - a fraction of the 260 vegetable trucks that cross the border daily.

Wang said no smuggled cigarettes or chickens were detected and 99 per cent of vegetables met safety requirements.

Vegetable wholesalers in Hong Kong have alleged that vegetables from unregistered farms are sent to the city under the disguise of proper origin labels. But Wang said that was not the case.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong's Customs and Excise Department reminded retailers to make sure that organic vegetables they offered for sale were truly organically grown.

A vegetable stall owner was fined HK$2,500 after pleading guilty at Fanling Court on Thursday to a charge of supplying vegetables falsely claimed to have organic authentication by the Hong Kong Baptist University.

Scant oversight

Last year, an estimated 260 vegetable trucks crossed the border daily

But only this number of trucks were checked on average: 7




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