Sanlu Group

Beijing bans 17 food additives

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 16 December, 2008, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 16 December, 2008, 12:00am


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The central government yesterday blacklisted 17 food additives and named 10 kinds of food that could contain excessive additives.

The lists, issued by the Ministry of Health, the Public Security Bureau and seven other ministries under the direction of the central government, were part of a four-month nationwide food-safety campaign to restore consumer confidence.

A government notice said food manufacturers and restaurants would be punished for adding illegal chemicals or having excessive amounts of food additives in their products, but companies would have until January 10 to check their products and destroy those that did not meet standards.

Food suppliers will also have to ensure that the permitted food additives used are within legal limits and produced by licensed companies.

The 17 prohibited items include headline-making additives such as Sudan red, a carcinogenic dye used for colouring egg yolks, and melamine, an industrial chemical used to boost protein readings in milk.

Other banned additives include carbon monoxide, industrial methanol for colouring or improving the texture of food, and opium, added to hotpots to get customers addicted.

The 10 types of food that the government said could contain too many additives included traditional snacks such as pickled vegetables, mooncakes and pastries. Preservatives and colourings have sometimes been added to these foods to improve their flavour, colour and shelf life.

The mainland, one of the world's major food producers and exporters, has become notorious for fatal food scandals in recent years.

In September, melamine was detected in infant milk powder produced by mainland company Sanlu, and later in other brands. The Health Ministry said at least six babies died of melamine-induced kidney problems after drinking milk formula, while 294,000 others throughout the country were affected.

In May last year, the United States' Food and Drug Administration investigated mainland-made, melamine-tainted pet food believed to have killed at least 38 animals.

In 2006, duck eggs from Hebei were found to be contaminated with Sudan red dye, while Sudan 1, another type of dye that has been linked to an increased risk of cancer, was found in a spicy bean product made in Hunan .