5,000 ducks slaughtered in red-yolk scare

(China Daily)
Updated: 2006-11-16 07:02

SHIJIAZHUANG: More than 5,000 ducks believed to have eaten feed containing a harmful red dye were slaughtered Monday in North China's Hebei Province.

Over 300 kilograms of duck eggs were also destroyed and buried after the owners of five duck farms in Pingshan County admitted feeding the ducks with the red dye, which has tested positive for carcinogens.

The farm owners had heard that the dye would turn the yolk of the duck eggs red. Red-yolk duck eggs are commonly thought to be more nutritious than yellow-yolk eggs and so are usually more expensive.

Residents destroy duck eggs containing a poisonous red dye in Shijiazhuang, capital of North China's Hebei Province November 15, 2006. Red-yolk duck eggs, weighting 311 kg have been destroyed and the local government calls for a thorough investigation into the food safety accident. [Xinhua]

They claimed that a trader named Zhu Laiyong in Baoding, a city in Hebei, had told them he could sell them a "red drug" which acted as a high-tech additive to make the ducks produce more red-yolk eggs. They each paid 25 yuan (about US$3) for a half-kilogram bag which was supposed to last for six months.

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They also claimed that Zhu had bought the red-yolk eggs from them at 0.2 to 0.3 yuan (0.02 to 0.03 US cent) higher per kilogram than normal yellow-yolk ones.

At a press conference held yesterday, the Hebei provincial government said two duck farms in Jingxing County were also found to have used fodder containing the dye. Two hundred kilograms of duck eggs and 70 kilograms of salted duck eggs were confiscated at the two farms.

The alleged contamination was first disclosed by a weekly news programme on China Central Television.

In response, the Beijing authorities immediately banned the sale of red-yolk duck eggs from Hebei and advised buyers to return the products.

Hebei has also imposed a ban on the sale of all red-yolk duck eggs in the province.

"Three managers of three egg processing factories in Hebei have been arrested for their involvement in the dye contamination," said a spokesman for the provincial government on Tuesday.

The Beijing Food Safety Office on Tuesday confirmed that samples of red-yolk salted duck eggs sold in the city had been found to contain Sudan B, a carcinogenic red dye.

Beijing officials have so far seized 1,159 kilograms of the red-yolk eggs. Sales of all red-yolk duck eggs have been banned in Chengdu, capital of Sichuan Province and Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong Province.

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