06/23/2007, 00.00
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Cancerous substances found in Chinese food and veterinary medicines

The Ministry for Agriculture admits the incident, but maintain there has been “a slight improvement” since 2006. Now 95% of products are in order, yet green malachite, nitro furans and brass sulphate have been found in more food. Expired produce repackaged and sold as new. Meanwhile the trial opens of Zheng Xiaoyu’s secretary.

Beijing (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Veterinary medicines without a license or substandard to the requirements, food products containing cancerous substances, old snacks expired by over two years re packaged, counterfeit products.  The long battle to insure food security in China is confirmed. 

June 21 the Ministry for Agriculture declared that the analyses of about 20% of veterinary medicines resulted substandard.  The problem is aggravated by the massive presence of counterfeit products: without official approval, produced by inexistent companies or even long banned, or fake facsimiles of existing products without approval. 

Notwithstanding the minister announced “a small improvement” compared to a year ago and has promised increased quality control.

This week, the Ministry of Agriculture, eager to reassure consumers, said tests of fruit, vegetables, meat and fish in major cities showed that more than 95 per cent of products were up to standard. But it admitted problems existed. Malachite green, a cancer-causing chemical used by fish farmers to kill parasites, was found in some samples, as were nitrofurans, an antibiotic also linked to cancer.

Earlier this month Wan Maomao Frozen Food Co. in Anhui was discovered to have recycled “zongzi” – rice gluten snacks covered in bamboo leaves – by repackaging them even though they had expired two years earlier.  Zongzi is traditionally eaten during the  Dragon Boat festival in June.  In 2006 the national quality inspection administration announced that 10 percent of rice dumplings made by 133 producers nationwide had failed tests because they contained excessive amounts of food additives; Wan Maomao was among them. The tests showed that the leaves contained high amounts of copper sulfate or copper chloride, normally used to make the leaves bright green.

Meanwhile in Beijing, the closed door trial against Cao Wenzhuang, ex secretary of Zheng Xiaoyu, the former director State Food and Drug Administration. Zheng was condemned to death in May for having accepted money and gifts amounting to 6.49 million Yuan to authorize substandard medicines, among them an antibiotic that killed at least 6 people.  Cao denies all responsibility, but court officials say the charges are “very serious”. (PB)


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