BEIJING Alarmed by pollution in the Chinese capital, authorities in Beijing will crack down on smoky outdoor grills from May 1, in a move that will hit the city's popular kebab stalls, state media reported on Wednesday.
During Beijing's sweltering summers, many residents gather round sidewalk tables, drinking beer and eating food cooked in the street, and the ban is bound to make an impact coming into effect on a labor day holiday.
The new rules, which also target eateries serving popular cold dishes, are intended to help preserve food safety and control smog, state-owned China News Service reported on its website.
Popular snacks like garlic cucumber salad and cold tofu skin will likely no longer be sold outdoors, the news report said. Grills where skewers of lamb, beef, chicken wings and vegetables are cooked must be moved inside.
Years of unfettered economic growth have taken their toll on China's environment, and pollution is a major source of public dissatisfaction and unrest. The government has said tackling pollution is one of its top priorities.
Food safety scares, from cadmium-tainted rice to reused cooking oil, have also plagued the country and weighed on consumer confidence.
The head of Beijing's Foreign Affairs Office drew scorn from microbloggers last October when he claimed that stir frying made a significant contribution to air pollution. Similar skepticism emerged from Chinese microbloggers on Wednesday.
"The whole environment has been destroyed, and industrial pollution and overuse of cars are the primary reasons," one user wrote. "What is the point of preventing Beijingers from eating cucumber salad outside?"
(Reporting By Megha Rajagopalan; Editing by Simon Cameron-Moore)