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Shenzhen Food Safety Crackdown Finds Contaminated Meat, Noodles and Fish

Posted: 04/4/2014 11:29 am

When overly ambitious food retailers take to acting as amateur chemists to cut corners, they keep the savings but pass the hazardous effects onto us, the consumer. It’s another kind of “lightning in a bottle”.

A total of nine people have been arrested in food safety crackdowns by the Shenzhen Food Safety Department last year. Most of the convictions stemmed from the sale of counterfeit name brand baijiu, drinking water, and beer, but three cases involved the sale of food contaminated with hazardous chemicals.

The most recent food safety “blacklist” details some of the food Shenzhen residents may have been eating this past year, SZ News reported.

Grass fish, Mandarin fish, Yellow fish – six fish out of a sample of eleven were found to contain malachite green, a controversial aquaculture agent that controls bacteria and fungi. It can be safely used for fish in aquariums, but not recommended for consumable fish as it poses a health risk to humans. Banned in the USA, UK, and Canada, this agent also known as “China green” is commonly used as a dye.

Four seafood sellers at Luofang Seafood Wholesale Market were found guilty of using malachite green during a September 25, 2013 inspection and given sentences of six to ten months in jail and given fines up to RMB 10,000.

Fried rice noodles – excessive amounts of sodium borate or Borax were found in noodles sold by a food seller in Longgang District. Because of its effectiveness against yeast, Borax is often used as a food preservative but is mostly used in China to add a firm rubbery texture to noodles. Is banned in the USA, Canada, New Zealand and Australia.

Fan Chuhao, owner of the Chuhaoji Beef Store, failed a food inspection on March 25, 2013 and convicted. Fan was sentenced to six months in jail and fined RMB 3,000.

Marinated meat – high levels of hydrogen peroxide were found in marinated meat at a food processing workshop in Longgang’s Henggang Subdistrict. Hydrogen peroxide can be used as a bleaching agent for shark fin, but is used in meat preparation because it kills bacteria and helps tenderize the meat.

Xue Chonglan failed a March 15 inspection and was convicted. Xue was sentenced seven months in jail and fined 4,000 yuan.

Shenzhen first established a food safety “black list” on September 1, 2013. If guilty, persons named to this list are not allowed to work in the food industry for five years. This recent list is the third one to be published so far.

Photo: hbshuichan


Guangdong confirms 3rd and 4th cases of H7N9 bird flu

Posted: 12/17/2013 7:00 am

After H7N9 bird flu was found at Shenzhen wet markets last week, two more people in the province were diagnosed with the virus over the past two days. Both are in a critical condition.

Shanghaiist reported yesterday that a Dongguan man was in a critical condition and being treated at Guangzhou Medical University’s First Affiliated Hospital. Then provincial health authorities announced last night that a 65 year-old woman in Yangjiang was confirmed to be the fourth case.

South China Morning Post has more:

Authorities said clinical experts had been sent to Yangjiang by the commission to provide medical guidance and conduct an epidemiological investigation.

A total of 142 human cases of H7N9 bird flu have been confirmed so far in China, including 51 cases in Zhejiang, 33 in Shanghai, 28 in Jiangsu and a handful of cases across Jiangxi, Fujian, Anhui, and Henan provinces.

Shandong, Hunan and Beijing have confirmed two cases H7N9 cases and a solitary case has been confirmed in Hebei.

Now is really the time for authorities to make sure public health is prioritised over business interests.


H7N9 found at Shenzhen wet markets, business continues as usual

Posted: 12/13/2013 9:24 am

In a case where business interests may have overtaken health concerns, many Shenzhen wet markets remain open and chickens on sale despite tests showing H7N9 bird flu had infected some of the poultry.

Chickens at 13 wet markets have been tested by Guangdong authorities, with three samples coming back positive from two wet markets in the city. Both markets, Kangqiao and Henggang, are in Longgang District.  You’d think this would cause a shutdown of the poultry stalls, at least temporarily. But alas, it has not. Here’s Bloomberg:

The 12 live poultry stalls at the Hengan Paibang market in Longgan district, one of the markets where authorities found a positive sample, were open today.

The stalls get their chickens from the Buji Poultry Wholesale Market in Longgan, according to the market’s manager.

“There’s been no order yet to shut down,” said Zhang Jinghui, manager of the Paibang market. “We need to wait for instructions from the village committee. We are disinfecting the stalls everyday.”

Huang Weihua, whose stall had samples tested positive for H7N9, said he sold two chickens today, down from 30 to 40 daily.

Kangqiao was also open as of 9am yesterday. The South China Morning Post has this:

As of noon on Thursday, live poultry trading continued as normal at several wet markets across Shenzhen.

“No one told us to stop selling chickens. We feel worried (about the disease) but we have to make a living,” a female vendor said at a wet market in Bao’an district.

There is a modicum of good news here. Since yesterday, chicken stalls at Kangqiao have been ordered to close for three days. However, all others remain open, including the one in Longgang, despite the positive test results.

How bad could this get? Ben Cowling, an associate professor of infectious disease epidemiology at the University of Hong Kong’s school of public health, said “It’s likely that H7N9 virus infection among poultry in live markets may be more widespread in Shenzhen.”

Happy weekend.

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