Food safety is a common concern for local and foreign families. How can we ensure we are serving our families truly healthy food from grocery stores, markets, restaurants or street vendors while living here?
Where can I buy safe, healthy food?
One challenge for many families living in Shanghai is grocery shop- ping. It can be difficult to buy everything at one location on a shop- ping excursion. Often familes face the laborious task of sourcing from local supermarkets, specialty stores, online grocers like Epermarket, FIELDS, wet markets and trusted organic farms.
Holistic health coach and nutrition consultant Kimberly Ashton, of Sprout Lifestyle (www.sproutlifestyle.com), recommends consumers adopt a proactive approach to food safety. “Buy organic produce wherever possible, and wash and peel fruits and vegetables that are not organic, especially apples, grapes, peaches and strawberries.”
Kimberly also recommends researching the local organics market to ensure you get what you pay for. “There’s an ever-growing number of organic producers. Go and visit the farms if possible to see exactly where seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables come from. There are farms open daily to the public on Chongming Island, throughout Pudong and in Puxi. Select brands you recognize at the supermarket. If you choose to buy from local wet markets and street vendors, be aware that it is difficult to determine whether pesticides have been used, and to what extent.”
What do restaurants offer?
Restaurants add much to the enjoyment of life in Shanghai – the variety of dining options is almost infinite. There’s every incarnation of Western-style food imaginable, a huge variety of regional Chinese and other Asian cuisines plus a growing number of healthy and vegetarian options. While foreigners rely on English-language media apps like Bon App! and Chope, and reader recommendations and editor reviews.
Is street food in Shanghai safe?
Many travelers and residents alike suggest the best way to under- stand and enjoy a culture is to sample its street food. With delicious egg pancakes and plump dumplings, meat sticks, tea eggs and stinky tofu, the choice in Shanghai is as diverse as the number of alleyways in Puxi. Kimberly warns that while it shouldn’t be a regular habit, from a health perspective, it’s okay to sample street food in moderation.
Eating street food is a personal decision and common sense should prevail. The golden rule is to eat where the locals eat, and where food is cooked fresh in front of you. Be wary of the clarity of oil used and if the venue is dirty, or the food looks or smells unappetizing, walk away. If the task seems daunting on your own, check out the variety of tours through Untour Shanghai, whose popular breakfast, night market and dumpling delights tours get rave reviews.
What do the labels mean?
How can you be certain that what you and your family are eating and drinking is the real deal? A simple way is to learn how to read the labels on the food you buy.
Many organic labels will include a QR code that you can scan to check the authenticity. Once you scan it on your phone you’ll be directed to a screen with information including the name of the certification agency, the certification number and certification type. If your organic label does not have a QR code, simply visit: food.cnca.cn to check its authenticity.
By law, all foods manufactured in China – for the domestic market – have to carry a QS label, which shows that the producer has been inspected by China’s FDA and has the correct space, equipment and processes for preparing, processing and packaging food.