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Consumers wary of imported Chinese food product safety

Date Posted: 2007-07-20

Food products imported from China fill many shelves and coolers in Okinawa supermarkets, but reports of production trickery and use of dangerous chemicals is beginning to concern consumers.

The imported products are inexpensive compared to Okinawa-produced goods, and consumers have in the past been pleased. Now, stories about unsavory production and preparation techniques worry Okinawans. Many Chinese foods have chemicals mixed in, or are used to coat products.

An example cited this week is the practice of using varnish to coat fruit to make it shiny. Officials say the same chemical is used for coating human fingernails and hair.

The content of Chinese-produced foods came under scrutiny this week with the arrest of a Chinese bun maker who was using cardboard in his product. The Beijing man was making Nikuman, a meat bun steamed before eating. The producer admitted using cardboard in his filling mixture to cut costs.

He boiled cardboard with chemicals to soften it, then diced it into fine pieces to mix with the spices, onion, salt and minced meat. Only 40% of the mixture was actual food product; the remaining 60% was cardboard, and the producer told police consumers didnít even notice the difference. In fact, he explained to police, people were saying his product is good tasting.

Beijing Police acted after a television film crew documented the bun maker brewing his concoction.

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