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Excessive Bacteria Found in Imported Evian Water
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More than 118 tons of imported Evian-branded mineral water failed to meet China's food safety standards, according to national quality supervisors.

Evian bottled water imported on February 18 contained 100 times more bacteria than China allows, according to the Website of the National Administration of Quality Supervision Inspection and Quarantine yesterday.

It's the largest amount of imported high-end mineral water to fall foul of Chinese safety laws.

All the bottles were destroyed or returned to Europe before being sold in Shanghai.

Danone Imported Waters (Asia) Co Ltd, an affiliate to Groupe Danone SA, the world's leading food and beverage maker, said the tainted Evian was brought in by a former importer, and the company is investigating. An official statement will be released later.

"I am afraid it will have a negative impact on our brand image," said an official surnamed Gu from Danone's logistics department, which is in charge of the probe.

"Different safety standards between the European Union and China may be part of the reason, but we will make sure all products available on the market are safe."

Ma Youqi, secretary general of Guangdong Provincial Bottled Water Association, said the water could have been contaminated at source, while being bottled in factories or transported, according to Information Times.

Industry observers are calling for tighter rules to better monitor high-end imported water, which usually sells for 10 times the price of local brands such as Wahaha and Nongfu Shanquan.

Ninety percent of China's 9.71 million liters of imported bottled water comes from European Union countries, according to media reports, citing Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau.

About 15 out of 128 batches of imported mineral water were regarded as low-quality products, including Evian and Provence brands.

(Shanghai Daily May 30, 2007)

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