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July 18, 2013

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Excess synthetic coloring found in M&M's

MORE than 170 kilograms of M&M's dark chocolate imported from the United States was destroyed by China's top quality watchdog for containing excessive sunset yellow color.

The 171-kilograms of dark chocolate imported by Shanghai Yinasi (Ines) Trade Co Ltd was destroyed in May after failing quality tests, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said yesterday.

Sunset yellow is allowed in food and drinks but must not be more than 0.1 gram per kilogram, 0.2 grams per kilogram for candy shells, or 0.09 grams per kilogram for ice cream, according to China's national additive standards.

However, the color is banned in some Western countries, including Norway and Finland, for potential health risks.

The over-use of the synthetic color may lead to an allergic reaction and diarrhea, and could harm the kidneys and liver if taken in excess quantities over a long period, doctors warned.

A staff member at the Mars China service hotline said only the company's milk chocolate and peanut milk chocolate are sold on China's mainland.

However, the product is found on e-commerce platform, priced at about 65 yuan (US$10.48) for a pack of 544 grams.

A total of 84 kilograms of Reese's peanut butter chocolate also imported from the US by Yinasi was also destroyed for using propylene glycol, which is banned in chocolate under China's national standard, but is allowed in products such as noodles, dumplings and cakes.

Some 72 kilograms of Marks and Spencer's salted peanuts imported from the UK by its Shanghai subsidiary contained excessive peroxide, an indication they were stale, the watchdog said.

They were destroyed at customs.

Consuming food with excessive levels of peroxide over a long period can lead to liver damage, vomiting and diarrhea, doctors said.

The concentration of peroxide in oil or fat is useful for assessing the extent to which spoilage has advanced.


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