CHINA  SEIZES  2  TONS  OF  RP  BANANA  CHIPS

BEIJING, AUGUST 4, 2007
 (STAR) (AP) – Chinese quarantine officials have seized two tons of dried banana chips imported from the Philippines because they contained levels of the preservative sulfur dioxide that were 25 times the maximum allowed by Chinese regulations, state media said yesterday.

The 100 boxes of chips will either be returned to the Philippines or destroyed, the official Xinhua News Agency said.

Earlier the manufacturer of White Rabbit candy in China threatened to file a libel suit against the Philippine Bureau of Food and Drugs (BFAD) for ordering a pullout of its product from the market.

BFAD found the candy samples to contain formaldehyde, a toxic chemical used in embalming corpses.

White Rabbit-maker Guang Sheng Yuan had called BFAD “extremely irresponsible” for allegedly failing to make sure that the candy samples were from China, according to a GMANews.TV report.

Meanwhile, China has said it would work with the US to improve product safety amid a massive US recall of Chinese-made toys contaminated with lead-tainted paint.

China “attaches great importance to product quality and food safety and is highly responsible,” Chinese product safety official Wei Chuanzhong was quoted as saying by The Associated Press.

“We want to cooperate with other countries including the US to strengthen cooperation and communication,” Wei said.

However, Wei added that while China would “not avoid our problems, we also do not agree to playing up the situation regardless of the facts.

“We shouldn’t use problems found in one product to block all products,” Wei said, in a nod to Chinese concerns that scattered safety violations are threatening the reputation of Chinese exports as a whole. China has acknowledged safety problems, but says other countries are grappling with similar issues and insists that its products should not be unfairly singled out.

Wei’s comments came in a meeting Wednesday with visiting US Health and Human Services official Rich McKeown and were posted Thursday on the Web site of the General Administration for Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine, one of China’s product safety watchdogs.

The official’s remarks came just ahead of toy-maker Fisher-Price’s announcement Thursday that it was recalling almost 1 million plastic preschool toys made by a Chinese vendor, the latest in a string of Chinese product safety scandals. The recall covers 83 types of toys – including the popular Big Bird, Elmo, Dora and Diego characters – and is the largest for parent company Mattel Inc. since 1998 when Fisher-Price had to yank about 10 million Power Wheels from toy stores.

China’s latest moves – both conciliatory and defensive – illustrate how the country has been dealing with a growing international backlash against its exports because of health and safety concerns.

Fears were triggered earlier this year after a Chinese-made ingredient in pet food was linked to the deaths of cat and dogs in North America. Since then, juice, toothpaste and seafood have joined an expanding list of Chinese goods that have been banned or recalled around the world because they contain potentially dangerous levels of chemicals and toxins.

McKeown’s visit is centered around developing systems for ensuring the safety of food, feed, drugs and medical devices exported from China.

Talks have also touched on a US block of Chinese catfish, bass, dace, shrimp and eel after repeated testing turned up contamination by drugs that have not been approved in the United States for farmed seafood.


Chief News Editor: Sol Jose Vanzi

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