Cookware maker and CCTV locked in war of words

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 21 February, 2012, 12:00am
 

Supor, one of the major cookware brands on the mainland, is engaged in a war of words with China Central Television over a report that its low-end cooking utensils contain four times more manganese than allowed by national standards.

Manganese is a heavy metal that can damage the nervous system and lead to Parkinson's disease.

The cheap utensils also contained less nickel - a relatively expensive element - than required. However, officials found that Supor's high-end utensils met standards.

Trading of the Hangzhou -based company's shares was suspended on the Shenzhen Stock Exchange on Friday but resumed yesterday, declining 2.4 per cent to 15.30 yuan (HK$18.75).

CCTV's popular Focus news programme said on Thursday that commerce officials in Harbin , Heilongjiang , had found in August that the manganese content of 56 out of 82 randomly selected Supor products was about 7 per cent to 9 per cent, four times higher than the 2 per cent limit set by the national standard.

Supor said in October that the problematic utensils had passed tests but did not say which institution had carried them out, CCTV reported.

Company chairman Su Xianze told China National Radio on Sunday that it used one of the three types of stainless materials stipulated in a Ministry of Health food safety rule issued last year and that all its products had passed examination by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine's Shenyang station.

He said the 2 per cent benchmark for manganese content was not compulsory, but was recommended by two standards issued in 2007.

CCTV accused Supor of cutting costs at the expense of public safety. Li Cheng, director of the stainless steel branch of the China Special Steel Enterprises Association, was quoted as saying that nickel sold for 130,000 yuan a tonne and manganese for just a tenth of that price.

Supor's public relations manager, Zhang Liping , was quoted by CCTV as saying that the manganese in its products was not a food safety issue and a higher manganese content did not mean that more such metal would be shed in the cooking process. In Shanghai, some home appliance retailers have taken some Supor products off their shelves and have agreed to receive applications for refunds, eastday.com reports.

7,000

Supor employs more than this number of employees worldwide

- The company was founded in 1994 and its HQ is in Hangzhou

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