'No trouble brewing,' beer industry insists
Many other Chinese newspapers quoted the report, to the alarm of beer-drinkers across the country.
And the reports have also set alarm bells ringing overseas. On Monday the Korea Food and Drug Administration said it had decided to test Chinese beer imports for formaldehyde before allowing them to clear customs, and Japanese food authorities are reportedly following suit.
But, speaking to China Daily yesterday, Xiao branded the formaldehyde reports irresponsible. "It is utterly groundless to say this without explaining the facts clearly," he said.
According to Chinese law, the amount of formaldehyde in common beer may not exceed 2 milligrams per litre, and in "organic" beer it may not exceed 0.2 milligrams per litre.
There is no law banning beer from containing formaldehyde, Xiao said. Its use is allowed, and the association's annual nationwide survey found no domestic beer that exceeded the set limits, he added.
According to a China Business Times report, a 2002 survey of 19 domestic brands conducted by the National Food Quality Supervision and Inspection Centre found the average formaldehyde content to be 0.31 milligrams per litre.
Xiao conceded that some Chinese breweries still use formaldehyde, but insisted most of the chemical added during production was no longer in the drink by the time it reached consumers. A certain amount of formaldehyde is produced during the process of fermentation itself, he said.
Big beer companies accounting for the majority of the Chinese market, including Tsingtao and Yanjing, have stopped using formaldehyde in favour of other additives to ensure the quality of the beer.
Xiao also pointed out that a market survey has shown the formaldehyde content of imported beer to be similar to that of the domestically produced beverage.
(China Daily 07/14/2005 page1)