Nongfu Spring doubts legitimacy of test in S China's island province

21:38, December 02, 2009      

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Nongfu Spring, China's leading producer of bottled water and beverages, voiced its doubts over the legitimacy of the tests in south China's Hainan Province.

"The entire procedure was not legitimate," said Zhong Shanshan, board chairman of the corporation Wednesday, referring to the two consecutive tests by the industry and commerce watchdog of Haikou city.

According to Ye Zhijian, attorney of Nongfu Spring, regulation by the State Administration for Industry and Commerce stipulated that sampling and test must be witnessed by three parties: the industry and commerce authorities, the producer and the lab in charge of the test.

If the producer has doubt over result of the test, it could apply for a second test and the producer has the right to choose which lab to use for the test, Ye said.

"The Nongfu Spring was not present when the first test took place, and after the result came out, the beverage corporation applied twice to the Haikou municipal bureau of industry and commerce but received no definite reply," he said.

The second test was still not witnessed by Nongfu Spring.

Zhong said the entire procedure of the test was not acceptable.

"Fortunately the second test by the comprehensive testing center under the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine was correct," Zhong Shanshan said. "But with so many loopholes in the procedure, who knows next time will our beverages be qualified or not?"

"A corporation shouldn't be satisfied with just the result," Zhong said.

According to Wang Jianlu, vice head of the bureau, when someone in charge from the headquarters of Nongfu Spring arrived at Haikou on November 27, they invited them to check the backup sample of the test and proposed to decide another authoritative lab together for a second test.

"But the beverage producer rejected the proposal," he said.

An official with the company said it declined the offer because in the initial test, the sample was not confirmed by Nongfu Spring. In the second test, the company could not tell whether the backup sample was authentic or not.

The provincial health department admitted that the Haikou bureau of industry and commerce had "errors in its procedure".

"It (the procedure) didn't conform with the Measures for the Supervision and Administration of Food Safety in the Circulation Links," said Ma Yongzhong, an official with the provincial health department.

The Haikou bureau of industry and commerce issued a caution on Nov 24, warning that the Nongfu Spring's 30 percent mixed vegetable and fruit juice and its C-100 grapefruit juice, as well as a beverages of the Uni-President Co., contained arsenic.

The products were also ordered to be taken off the shelves immediately.

The Nongfu Spring Co. and Uni-President Co. doubted the results and appealed to the national lab for a retest. The products were sent to the Chinese Academy of Inspection and Quarantine on Nov. 27.

The Haikou bureau of industry and commerce notified retailers Tuesday that the products should be stopped from being removed from shelves after the final results by the national test center.

Source: Xinhua
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