China is bringing in its first inspection standard for Sudan I after the recent discovery of the cancer-causing dye in a number of food products in China.
Li Changjiang, the director of the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, said that there is currently no testing for the toxic dye and government departments are to blame for the lack.
"Some of the current standard levels are low. For some substances like Sudan I, we don't even have inspection standards," said Li.
According to a report from the Heinz Meiweiyuan (Guangzhou) Food Co., whose chili products were found to contain Sudan I, its products meet all the current national inspection criteria.
China will put in place inspection standards for Sudan I similar to those used by the European Union. The Standardization Administration of China is working on an official national standard, which is expected to come out next month.
China began inspections for Sudan I in late February, following the European scare. KFC, a Heinz subsidiary and many established Chinese food manufacturers have been found to have used the carcinogenic industrial dye.
Sudan I was identified as a cancer-causing substance in 1995 and has been banned in China since 1996. But in the absence of an official inspection standard for the substance, there has been no testing for nearly a decade.
Even in products for which inspection standards exist, food safety has become a matter of growing concern. According to a March 26 China Daily report, the State Administration for Industry & Commerce (SAIC) reported earlier this month that in 2004, it handled 110,000 food safety cases. In the process, it discovered 920 million yuan (US$111 million) worth of counterfeit and substandard goods.
In the same year, the national inspection administration tested 2,000 food samples and found 20 percent of them were below the state-imposed quality standards.
(CRI.com, China Daily March 28, 2005)