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12.5% of beverages failed Chinese inspections in first-half of year

By RJ Whitehead

- Last updated on GMT

12.5% of beverages failed Chinese inspections in first-half of year

Related tags: Hong kong, Food

More than one in 10 drinks on sale in China did not meet national standards in the first six months of this year, China’s food regulator has announced.

The total of 12.5% of products that failed inspections equates to the highest failure rate of all the 24 product categories tested by the China Food and Drug Administration.

Some of the problems food safety inspectors found include illegal food additives, chemical residues and bacteria.

Other poor performing categories were ice cream and aquatic products, with at least 7% of these not meeting standards.

Of the 33,252 batches of foodstuff samples tested, 1,236 did not meet requirements, though dairy products stood out with all batches meeting government standards with the exception of two lines.

Having experienced a torrid 12 months in light of the whey protein scandal last year, infant formula did unexpectedly well, with just over 2% failing tests, while 3.9% had packaging or labelling issues.

Eggs and food additives were next best, with quality rates of 99.8% and 99.5% respectively. 

On the whole, quality rates ranged from 93-99%. 

Overall, excessive bacteria accounted for 35% of the substandard products; while poor quality came next at 31.9%; illegal or excessive food additives (19.3%); heavy metal pollution (12.7 %); and chemical residue (2.8%) completed the top five reasons for failure.

Chinese GM foods ‘as safe as traditional foods’

Chinese consumers have been told that all certified genetically modified foods sold in the country are safe.

According to the Ministry of Agriculture, China’s safety supervision system, which covers the complete chain of GM products, including research, production and trading, ensures that GM products are just as safe as conventional foods.

The ministry will now work with other departments to improve areas of legislation that concern GM products, and strengthen testing technologies, to ensure continued safety.

"Internationally, there is a conclusion on the safety of GM foods, that is, that all GM foods that have passed safety evaluation and been certified are safe​," the ministry said in a communique to China's top political advisory body.

"The conclusion by the World Health Organisation is that no health damage has been seen in any people worldwide who have consumed GM foods that have been approved by authorities​.”

New plants underway for Coca-Cola

Coca-Cola has begun development of its forty-fifth facility in China as part of a US$4bn investment in the country. 

The Hebei province plant, at a cost of US$56m, will have the capacity to produce up to 250m cases of beverages a year. The company also began construction on a new plant in Hunan Province earlier last month.

The first phase of construction in Hebei is expected to be complete in 2017, by which time four production lines will be operating, add 100m cases to the company’s current capacity for northern China.

China is our third-largest market by volume and is critically important to the future growth of our business​,” said Coca-Cola’s chairman and global chief executive, Muhtar Kent. 

We are committed to investing here and growing here for the long-term. Apart from infrastructure and system capability building, the new investments will focus on enhancing consumer experiences through improved marketing and local activations with our loyal retail partners​.”

The Coca-Cola Company has continued to record volume growth in China, with 6% growth in the second-quarter of this year. The company’s flagship Coca-Cola soft drink brand also showed significant growth, with volume up double digits in the same period last year.

Basketball star brings ‘differentiated’ energy drink to Hong Kong and Macau

NBA basketball player Mike Miller has launched L.I.F.E., a sparkling energy drink that is now available in over 1,000 retail outlets across Hong Kong and Macau. 

Formulated to suit the Asian palate, the drink is on sale in convenience stores and supermarkets and has already exceeded re-order expectations, Miller says. Legendary player Shaquille O’Neal visited the special administrative regions to support the launch.

The L.I.F.E. brand is owned by Miller, who created MWFC Global Ventures Hong Kong as the rights owner in Asia, with Hong Kong being the first market to sell the drink in the region. 

It has also launched in Macau, and this will be followed in China at the end of this year to take the energy drink to more than 100,000 retail stores.

Designed as a punchy pick me up and a mental and physical energizer, L.I.F.E. is sold in 270ml cans and priced at HK$17.90.

Miller said the product’s formulation for different regions was the result of considerable market research and would differentiate it from other products. 

Rather than take a one size fits all approach, L.I.F.E. tastes different to match consumers’ tastes in Hong Kong, China or Macau​,” Miller said. “Importantly, there is a clear correlation between energy drink consumption and people playing basketball in mainland China; both are trending upwards​.”

Basketball has a huge following in Asia, with every secondary school in Hong Kong having its own team. In China, basketball is followed more than any other sport, with over 300m casual players in the country.

Hong Kong to review online food sales regulations

Hong Kong will review its food safety laws with an emphasis on online sales, which require stronger regulation, Hong Kong’s health minister has revealed. 

Dr Ko Wingman, secretary for food and health, said in a response to a media probe: “It's not that we don't have laws to regulate them, but there is difficulty in enforcing laws. We therefore have to review laws and see what can be done better to facilitate our legal enforcement​.” 

Online food sales have been in the spotlight after dozens of people fell ill last month after eating sandwiches ordered online from a popular Taiwanese brand. 

Related topics: Policy, East Asia, Food safety, Beverages, China

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