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Banned Malignant Red Dye Found in China

Sudan I, a possible cancer-causing dye, has been detected in foods produced by a Heinz subsidiary in Guangdong, China's product quality watchdog said Friday night.

The State Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine yesterday urged the Heinz Meiweiyuan (Guangzhou) Food Co. to recall its affected products, seal the stocks and pull the remainder from shelves.

"Inspectors in the south China province have found Heinz' Golden Mark brand products -- pepper sauce and pepper oil -- contained the colorant Sudan I, which was banned for use in food in China and many other countries," said a statement from the state administration.

The administration asked restaurants to stop using any pepper products made by the Heinz company and destroy all stocks.

In addition, the watchdog asked local inspectors to examine Sudan I producers in China to make sure the dye is not sold to food processors.

It reiterated that food containing the harmful dye is not allowed to be sold or exported.

The Meiweiyuan condiment company is a wholly owned business founded by Heinz in Guangzhou in 2002.

No one from the company was available for comment last night.

But on February 22, Wang Lizhi, external affairs manager of Heinz (China) Investment Co. Ltd., told China Daily none of its five products being recalled in Britain were sold in China, including Hong Kong and Taiwan.

China has put a hold on imports of any food containing the carcinogenic substance, and began checking food from European Union for the dye following disclosure late last month that such colorant has fouled hundreds of food items in the United Kingdom.

China also has put a Chinese version of the list of 419 affected food products compiled by the British Food Standards Agency in a public domain, and informed food makers and marketers of the risk posed by the dye.

"Sudan I could contribute to an increased risk of cancer, but at the levels present the risk is likely to be very small," according to British Food Standards Agency Chief Executive Jon Bell.

(China Daily March 5, 2005)

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