BEIJING (Reuters) - Dumplings stuffed with cardboard and bogus rabies vaccines are the focus of the latest health scares in China, where the government has banned an industrial solvent used in toothpaste after a spate of global recalls.
China has stepped up its battle against substandard and fake food and drugs, new examples of which are reported on an almost daily basis around the world, and this week executed a former drug and food safety chief for corruption.
The Beijing Industry and Commerce Bureau had uncovered an unlicensed snack vendor selling steamed dumplings with traditional pork filling padded out with cardboard husks, the Beijing News said on Thursday, citing an investigative report by state-owned China Central Television.
The bureau had announced a city-wide crackdown of small snack vendors and warned people to eat in “legal” establishments.
Beijing was also investigating bogus rabies vaccines, the Beijing Times said, after a woman bitten by a neighbor’s dog injected vaccine she bought from a local hospital.
Authorities found the hospital had been selling phials of vaccine taken off shelves two years earlier for quality problems, the paper said.
Tales of shoddy or unsafe goods have grabbed international attention and called into doubt the made-in-China label but China has insisted the problems are limited to a few wayward manufacturers and has accused foreign media of hype.
Wei Chuanzhong, deputy head of the quality supervision watchdog, added his voice to the accusations in a meeting with the American Chamber of Commerce in China, according to a statement posted on the administration’s Web site (www.aqsiq.gov.cn).
“As for the malicious stirring up of some foreign media about quality and safety issues of Chinese exports, both sides think the problems of some companies and products do not mean there is a general problem with Chinese product quality,” it said.
“Individual trade cases will not affect the healthy development of Sino-U.S. trade.”
The latest reports come after China’s quality watchdog banned the use of diethylene glycol — an industrial solvent used in paint and antifreeze — in toothpaste after a series of recalls.
China’s quality and inspection watchdog stressed, however, that there was no proof long-term use of toothpaste containing the chemical was hazardous.
“Almost all of our toothpaste manufacturers no longer use diethylene glycol as an ingredient,” it said in a statement posted on its Web site late on Wednesday.
The move was to “guarantee consumers’ scientific use of toothpaste and also to avoid exporters suffering unnecessary losses”, it added.
The ban takes effect immediately.
The chemical is similar to but much cheaper than glycerine, which is widely used as a syrup in medicines and toothpaste.
This week Spain took Chinese-made toothpaste containing diethylene glycol off its shelves.
The United States, New Zealand, Singapore, Panama and other Latin American and Caribbean countries have taken similar action.
Panama says at least 100 people died after taking cough syrup which contained diethylene glycol rather than the glycerine which was supposed to have been used.