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August 1, 2013

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Marks & Spencer runs into trouble over high peroxide

LENTIL crisps sold by Marks & Spencer, Hershey’s peanut butter chocolate and Meiji’s cacao chocolate were among the stuff destroyed by China’s top quality watchdog for quality problems.

A batch of Marks & Spencer’s sour cream & chili lentil curls imported from the UK by its Shanghai subsidiary last month contained excessive peroxide — a sign that they were stale, the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine said yesterday.

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

The concentration of peroxide in oil or fat is used to assess the extent of decay in the products.

Still on sale

The lentil curls were on sale at the Nanjing Road W. outlet of M&S. It costs 35 yuan (US$5.64) per pack of 110 grams. A saleswoman at the store said the product would not be removed from the shelves and they had not received any intimation about the quality problem.

M&S Shanghai has been involved in several peroxide scandals. A total of 72 kilograms of M&S salted peanuts imported by its Shanghai subsidiary were destroyed in May for containing excessive peroxide. In February, more than 140 kilograms of its potato crisps were destroyed for the same reason.

“I will still eat it occasionally because I trust imported goods despite the results of the tests,” a consumer surnamed Wang said at the outlet.

More than 20 kilograms of Meiji 72-percent cacao imported from Japan by the Zhuhai Duty Free Co were found to contain excessive copper and were also destroyed last month after failing quality tests.

Too much copper can lead to liver and gall bladder problems, doctors said. A Meiji Seika China PR official said the company does not produce and sell 72-percent cacao boxed chocolate in the mainland. It only produces 45-percent cacao and 56-percent cacao chocolate.

Excessive antioxidants

Also, more than 90 kilograms of Hershey’s peanut butter chocolate were destroyed for having propyl gallate and ascorbyl palmitate. They were imported from H.B.Reese Candy Co by the Hainan Duty Free Co in June.

Li Shuguang, a food safety professor with the School of the Public Health at Fudan University, said both substances are antioxidants, and are allowed to be added in foods up to a certain limit.

The batch of destroyed products may probably have excessive level of the antioxidants or unnecessarily and improperly added, Li said. Over-use of antioxidants in the long term can harm the liver and spleen and poses cancer risks, according to doctors.

Three batches of White Glove skincare gel of Elizabeth Arden imported from the US were destroyed in Hainan Province for being past the expiration date.

The products were among 94 imported food and cosmetics items returned or destroyed by the bureau last month. They included frozen fish, milk, yoghurt, candies, chocolate, coffee, beverages, wine and snacks.


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