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September 21, 2009

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US drink, food titans fail to meet China quality standards

MORE than 150 imported food and cosmetics items, including products from United States corporate giants PepsiCo and Mead Johnson Nutrition, have failed quality-inspection tests for the Chinese market.
The nation's regulator said on Saturday PepsiCo's orange concentrates and Mead Johnson's milk powder for babies failed July inspections, along with 152 other imported products,
Frozen chicken from the US and cookies from Denmark also had flaws, including less nutritional value than claimed on the packaging and bacteria levels that were too high, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said.
"PepsiCo applies strict quality testing standards to its imported fruit juice concentrates," the US-based firm said in a statement e-mailed to Shanghai Daily yesterday.
PepsiCo had informed the Customs about below-par frozen orange concentrates imported from Brazil and returned these products to the suppliers in the country of origin, the company said.
In China, PepsiCo, whose orange juice brand is Dole, has a bottling plant in the southern Guangdong Province.
During the July inspection, about 300 kilograms of Mead Johnson's milk powder for babies was found to have "a lack of protein," the administration said.
The safety of milk powder for infants is paramount in China after the melamine scandal, which caused the deaths of at least six children and sickened about 300,000 last year.
"The major-brand milk powders for infants sold on the market are safe as they have passed recent spot tests on melamine quantity," the administration said on its Website.
A variety made by Danisa Butter Cookies, whose products are often used as gifts in China, also failed to pass the inspection, the administration said.
During the inspection in July, 39 failed products came from the US or were imported by US-based firms, accounting for a quarter of the total, according to the administration.
Package warning
China has strengthened food-quality inspections.
In March, 37 tons of whey protein imported by Beingmate from the US and 5.2 tons of Wahaha protein imported from New Zealand were found to be tainted with potentially fatal bacteria.
In the first quarter, the state quality supervisor also found problems in 1,800 imported food items - among them frozen seafood, chocolates and grape juice - from 60 countries or regions including the US, Japan and European Union nations.
Among them, a 2.9-ton batch of an ingredient imported by formula producer Intel Child Nutrition Dairy Co Ltd had faulty packaging and failed to meet quality standards.
Snack-food producer Mars Inc failed quality checks for a batch of malt balls imported from Britain.
Officials from the Shanghai Entry-Exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau have said that consumers should carefully check the packaging on all imported food to ensure its bona fides.
All authorized imported food came with detailed Mandarin information and expiry dates on the packaging, they said.
Last September, milk powder produced by Sanlu Group, based in Shijiazhuang City in northern China's Hebei Province, and other major dairy makers was found to contain high levels of industrial chemical melamine.
The chemical gave a falsely high protein reading in quality tests and caused renal damage.


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