Every morning, at half past eight, Lu Yueqiu starts testing food samples at the Jiangpanwan farmers’ market in the county of Quannan in the south-eastern province of Jiangxi. At least 12 samples, including leafy vegetables, meat and aquatic products, are taken for food-safety testing every day. The results are shown on an LED screen in the farmers’ market within an hour.
Business owners who fail the rapid testing are required to immediately stop selling and dispose of the non-compliant products under the supervision of local Administration for Market Regulation.
Sometimes Lu ‘disappears’ from the farmers’ market for a few days. She goes to various communities and towns in the area to conduct an activity called, You sent the food, I will help you test it. Consumers give her edible agro-products and she tests them for pesticide residues and other problems. This activity has received an enthusiastic response from local consumers, strengthening their confidence in the edible agro-products they purchase.
But all this is a recent development. Lu recalls the time, a few years back, when her career started.
“I could not master the basic knowledge of rapid testing, including related rules and regulations, major techniques and the use of toolkits. In addition, the rapid testing in the farmers’ market at that time had just started, with insufficient testing toolkits and simple testing items - mainly for pesticide residues. The test results could merely be judged by the naked eye, which caused difficulties for accurate rapid food-testing.”
Things are better now, thanks to a project implemented by the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO). As part of the Improving agro-industrial practice and capacity for poverty alleviation in Quannan project, which began in early 2019, UNIDO has transformed the rapid-testing rooms in Quannan’s farmers' markets and has provided training on how to carry out effective rapid food-testing.