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Stores Provide Refunds After Cancer Egg Scare
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Several Shanghai supermarkets are giving customers refunds on eggs that city health officials warn may contain a chemical linked to cancer.

Carrefour outlets throughout the city and the Trust-Mart branch on Xuhui District's Guilin Road are among those giving money back to shoppers who can produce a receipt for the possibly tainted eggs.

"We're responsible for our customers' health, so we decided to provide refunds on the suspect products," said Yu Jian, Carrefour's Shanghai public relations manager. "We also stopped the sale of all the questionable brands."

Food and drug regulators in other provinces have banned some brands of duck and chicken eggs after finding traces of the potentially carcinogenic dye Sudan-IV in the poultry products.

The dye was fed to ducks to produce red-yolk eggs, which are sold at a higher price at market because they are believed to be more nutritious than the yellow-yolk ones. Some chickens were apparently exposed to the contaminated feed as well.

The Shanghai Food and Drug Administration is checking local eggs for traces of the dye, and in the meantime has warned consumers to watch out for the tainted eggs.

The brands involved in the city's tests include Shendan, Sanhu and Meixiang from Hubei, Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces.

The test results will be released in two to three days, said Gu Zhenhua, an official with Shanghai's FDA.

"We'll order local stores to remove the products from their shelves if the inspection shows the eggs are tainted," Gu said.

The health scare surfaced last week, when 1,159 kilograms of salted red-yolk eggs, all produced in Hebei Province, were seized in Beijing because they contained the dye.

The Shanghai FDA said at that time that all egg products sold in the city were safe because there were no imports from the province.

But since then, the list of tainted egg reports has expanded to Henan, Anhui, Liaoning and other provinces.

The state quality watchdog has ordered the companies involved to stop production and sales, recall all the problem eggs and destroy them.

Many Shanghai consumers expressed concern over all egg products, no matter what their brand or province of origin.

"No one knows how long the suppliers have been up to their tricks," said a shopper surnamed Wang. "We don't want to take any risk of eating poisonous eggs."

Meixiang egg products from Hubei Province are still on shelf yesterday at a Nonggongshang Supermarket in Jing'an District.

A store clerk who was not willing to be named said the market had not received any notice to stop selling the products. "Too many brand names have been reported, and we are confused over which is safe," she said.

The clerk said that the store's egg business has fallen sharply since the Sudan-IV reports surfaced.

(Shanghai Daily November 22, 2006)

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