China investigates pulverized lime claim

Updated: 2010-04-09 17:06
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NANJING - Law enforcement authorities are investigating reports that an east China food additive maker added pulverized lime, an inedible ingredient, to flour bleaching agents.

The Legal Weekly reported on Wednesday that the lime, which could cause lung damage, accounted for 30 percent of the bleaching agents produced by the Yuzhong Food Additive Co, based in Rugao city, Jiangsu province.

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An investigation team comprising officials from the city bureaus of food safety, quality supervision and public security had ordered the company to suspend production, sealed off its raw materials and products, and sent samples for testing, said a spokesman for the city government Friday.

Chen Guogui, the company's legal representative, denied the report, saying the company was using calcium carbonate rather than pulverized lime.

The company had sold more than 108 tons of bleaching agents to seven mills in Shandong, Jiangsu and Anhui provinces since it acquired its production license in 2006.

China's regulation on food additives allowed the use of limited amounts of calcium carbonate in bleaching agents, but exceeding the limits could damage consumers' health, said Chen Jie, professor of food science and technology at Jiangnan University.

Investigators would test whether the 30 tons of calcium carbonate stored at the company were edible or for industrial use and whether the other materials were problematic.

"We will publicize the result once it comes out," said Sun Feng, deputy head of the Rugao Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine. "Once the production violates regulations, we will punish those responsible severely."