Chinese beer is safe to drink as its formaldehyde content is much lower than the ceiling set by the World Heath Organization (WHO), China's quality watchdog reported Friday.
The State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (SAQSIQ) spot-checked 157 products from 136 domestic beer enterprises and 64 beer products imported from more than 10 countries -- in response to recent media reports alleging that Chinese beer contains too much formaldehyde.
The SAQSIQ found all the domestic beer products under sample investigation contained formaldehyde of less than 0.9 milligrams a liter, the danger line set by the WHO, while one liter of the imported beer contained 0.10 to 0.61 milligrams of formaldehyde on average.
The 23 products from eight domestic brand-name enterprises including Tsingdao and Yanjing breweries contained an average of 0.10 to 0.56 milligram of formaldehyde a liter, a level equal to or even lower than imported beer, it reported.
"Domestic beer can definitely compare well with imported products," Ji Zhengkun, director of the SAQSIQ's quality supervision department, told a press conference.
He slammed some newspaper reports alleging that it can lead to blindness to drink Chinese beer for a long time. "The reports are irresponsible, untrue," the official said.
Beer-related shares plummeted in the Chinese market last week.
China's beer output nears 30 million tons a year, ranking 1st in the world continuously in the past three years. The country exported roughly 150,000 tons of beer last year, raking in 76 million US dollars, figures show.
A senior official surnamed He from the China Brewing Industry Association told Xinhua that he believes the formaldehyde storm will soon blow over.
The association, however, will continue to encourage domestic breweries to gradually reduce or even stop the use of formaldehyde and help them adopt state-of-the-art technology, he said.
Ji Zhengkun echoed He's remarks, saying that China's beer trade is expected to return to a normal track through strengthened exchanges with relevant countries.
Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) have called back beer products imported from China.