Cancer-risk dye back in food products
A year after a crackdown, Sudan 1 is detected in bean and chilli additives
Sudan 1 red dye has been found in at least seven food products one year after a crackdown on its use, with the authorities partly blaming poor management at small food factories for the problem.
The dye, which has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, is normally used in shoe polish, oils, waxes and fuel products to make them look more shiny and colourful.
According to CCTV's Weekly Quality Report, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine discovered Sudan 1 in a spicy bean product made by a Hunan manufacturer early this year during a routine national check.
When the Hunan food quality authorities launched a further investigation, seven out of 28 bean food and chilli additives were found to contain Sudan 1 and 4. Manufacturers in Guangdong, Shandong and Hebei were involved.
The authorities later found that Changsha Tianyi Additive Technology in Hunan was illegally selling chilli additives under the name of a legitimate Guangdong company. However, the product was not made by Changsha Tianyi, but bought from other companies, diluted and packaged. Changsha Tianyi then sold the additive to Hunan Yongzhou Xiaoyao Food, whose products were found to contain Sudan red.
Yongzhou Xiaoyao and other food processing companies were also accused of failing to confirm their suppliers' credentials. As Yongzhou Xiaoyao never carried out quality inspections or signed a contract with Changsha Tianyi, it is still not known at which stage of the process the dye was added.
A Shandong company whose products were found to contain the chemical was also the victim of counterfeit packaging, this time at the hands of the Wugang Jiupintang Halogenated Food in Hunan. Wugang Jiupintang was closed in March.
Managers of the Hunan company which made the bean product denied they intentionally used Sudan 1, but admitted they had never inspected the quality of the product.
The CCTV report said poor management at the Guangdong and Shandong companies allowed other enterprises to illegally package goods using their names.
Sudan I is carcinogenic in mice, according to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, which is part of the World Health Organisation. The agency puts the dye in Group 3, meaning it is not classifiable as to carcinogenicity in humans. However, the dye has been widely banned as an additive around the world. The mainland banned it a decade ago but only began to check for it last year, according to the China Daily.
The dye caused a big food scare in Britain in February last year, after it turned up in a brand of Worcester sauce. The origin was traced to adulterated chilli powder. Hundreds of products were recalled. That spurred the mainland government to begin checking for the dye. It was found in domestic chilli paste and KFC's chicken wings, drawing massive media attention.
The authorities later found that a Guangdong food plant had manufactured additives containing Sudan 1 and supplied it to a dozen provinces.
There are now 177,000 food companies on the mainland, 72 per cent of which are small companies with fewer than 10 employees.
The vice-minister of the nation's top quality inspection body, Pu Changcheng said last week the main obstacle to raising food safety standards was the fact that most food producers on the mainland were too small.