From: Reuters
Published December 6, 2007 11:32 PM

China halts batch of U.S. potato chips

BEIJING (Reuters) - China halted the import of a batch of Procter & Gamble potato chips from the United States for containing a banned additive, state media reported on Friday.

But a China-based P&G spokesman blamed the Chinese importer and said the shipment had nothing to do with the U.S. consumer goods giant.

China has stepped up quality checks on domestic producers in the wake of a series of global scandals involving substandard food and drug exports in recent months, but has also made a point of naming foreign companies that it says have failed its own quality standards.

Inspectors in July stopped a 95 kg (210-pound) batch of BBQ-flavored Pringles, a P&G brand imported from the United States, for containing potassium bromate, a flour-enhancing additive, according to a notice posted on the Web site of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, China's quality watchdog.

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Potassium bromate is banned as a food additive in China and Europe, but permitted in the United States under prescribed conditions. It has been deemed potentially harmful by some studies if consumed in excessive amounts and may be carcinogenic.

The importer, Zhuhai Duty Free Enterprises Group, had already pulled the chips from shelves, the China Daily said, citing a company official. The chips had also been pulled from shelves in Hong Kong, media said this week.

"We destroyed all the potato chips in stock and immediately stopped their importation in July, when we were notified the products were unsafe," the paper quoted a company spokesman surnamed Gu as saying.

P&G spokesman Charles Zhang said the products had not been sourced through the two approved China suppliers and were not the company's responsibility.

"This was not a result of any Proctor & Gamble action," Zhang told Reuters by phone.

"We can assure that all of our products are safe... they comply with Chinese regulations regarding potassium bromate," Zhang said, adding that the company was conducting its own inquiries.

(Editing by Nick Macfie)

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