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Authorities Working to Root Out Bad Eggs
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Quality inspection departments at all levels in China are responding to calls to inspect egg-related businesses after traces of an industrial dye were found in duck eggs.

The General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine released a notice yesterday saying inspections would test for all types of Sudan Red colorants. This included Sudan Red I, II, III and IV, all of which are carcinogenic industrial dyes strictly banned in the food industry.

The contamination scare started after CCTV reported last weekend that ducks in Hebei Province had been fed Sudan Red IV to make the yolks of their eggs redder. Producers found to have added Sudan Red to duck feed will have to stop producing and distributing their eggs and will face temporary closure. These operations will also be obliged to recall any bad eggs.

Hebei's quality supervision, inspection and quarantine bureau has been told to seize all salted duck eggs suspected of containing the dye at the province's Baiyangdian Guohua Egg Processing Plant. This is the source of the contamination and they'll carry out additional sample tests and inspections.

To date six of the 22 different brands of eggs that have been tested in Beijing have been found to contain Sudan Red IV. Five of those brands originated in Hebei and one in central China's Hubei Province.

The Beijing administration for industry and commerce announced these findings Tuesday morning after a thorough investigation of local distribution centers, production facilities and catering enterprises. The administration had seized 1,158 kilograms of duck eggs suspected of contamination by Monday night.

Beijing's food safety office has launched investigations into the enterprises involved in the case and has cut off transport channels.

Officials in Anxin and Jingxing counties in Hebei, the major locations of the contaminated eggs, have been detained, sources at the Hebei's food and drug bureau said.

In Beijing sales of salted duck eggs have plummeted. Xinfadi Market sold 80 percent fewer eggs on Monday.

Though no Baiyangdian brand duck eggs have turned up in Tianjin and Guangzhou, the capital city of south China's Guangdong Province, local authorities there have called for all red-yolk duck eggs to be removed from shelves. Restaurants have also been told not to use such eggs until further notice.

Chen Zejun, president of the Guangzhou Food Association, said Guangzhou used about 25 tons of salted duck eggs a day, primarily as an ingredient in cakes and Cantonese-style cuisine.

(China Daily November 15, 2006)

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