China Orders Crackdown on Toxic Additives Use in Preserved Eggs

China ordered nationwide inspections of preserved-egg plants after media reports that toxic chemicals are being used as additives, the latest in a series of food scandals that have plagued the world’s most populous nation.

Local governments were told to check all preserved-egg factories and products to “strictly examine” whether industrial copper sulphate additives are being illegally used, state-run Xinhua News Agency reported yesterday, citing the China Food and Drug Administration. Plants found using the chemical will be shut down and tainted eggs should be removed from markets, Xinhua said, citing the agency.

This latest case puts further pressure on China’s government to fulfill its recent pledge to enhance food and drug safety. Vice Premier Wang Yang called for a “special campaign” to overhaul the food and drug industries and to severely punish violators, Xinhua reported June 6. Food and drug safety is an important economic and political issue, Wang was cited as saying.

Authorities on June 14 shut 30 plants producing preserved eggs in Nanchang county of central Jiangxi province after state broadcaster China Central Television reported industrial copper sulphate was being used as an additive, state-run reported.

Industrial copper sulphate, which contains arsenic, lead and cadmium, may cause kidney damage. Nanchang county produces 300,000 tons of eggs each year, making up 15% of China’s total, CCTV reported.

Excessive Cadmium

In May, China’s Guangdong province, the nation’s most populous region, said it found excessive levels of toxic cadmium in more than 40 percent of rice sold in Guangzhou, its capital city.

The Food Safety Authority also tightened nationwide scrutiny on illegal processing of fake mutton and dead animal meat after more than 10,000 dead hogs were pulled from the Huangpu river in Shanghai in March.

Wang also urged local governments to take responsibility for food and drug safety in their jurisdictions and called for relevant departments to effectively enhance the management of food and drug safety, according to Xinhua’s June 6 report.

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