As the sweltering summer heat continues unabated, an ice cream or frozen lolly might seem hugely tempting.
But ice cream lovers are encouraged to be cautious.
According to an official sample survey conducted by the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, about half of the ice creams or frozen lollies on sale are sub-standard.
After examining 76 ice cream products made by 71 manufacturers in 13 provinces and municipalities, the administration today announced that the overall approval rate for ice cream products in China is only 52.6 percent.
According to the survey, large ice cream producers including Wall's, Nestle, Mengniu, Yili, Sanyuan, Wufeng and Hongbailai have a better production record and are among the list of trustworthy producers posted by the administration.
The administration said that misleading labels is the biggest problem, accounting for 40.8 percent of all the samples.
Thirty-one products have a problem with their labels. Some producers fail to mark production dates, while others fail to inform customers of ingredients such as food additives or artificial sweeteners.
High microbe counts are another problem. Nineteen products had excessive amounts of coliform, a bacteria that ferments lactose. One product even contained 24.4 times the accepted standard. This is mainly due to poor sanitary conditions during production.
The third problem was the improper make-up of ingredients. Ten products' fat content failed to meet accepted standards.
Finally, there was the problem of excessive sweetening. It was discovered that some ice cream producers use artificial sweeteners as a substitute for sugar in order to reduce production costs.
According to the previous six official sample surveys, the approval rate of China's ice cream products has hovered around 60 percent.
(China Daily August 15, 2005)