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Bottled water scandal highlights food safety challenges


18:37, April 12, 2013

BEIJING, April 12 (Xinhua) -- Bottled water producer Nongfu Spring Co. has found itself in trouble, as recent reports indicate that its quality criteria fall short of those set by the government for the country's tap water.

Ma Jinya, secretary-general of the China National Health Association Drinking Water Committee, was quoted Friday by the Beijing Times as saying that the criteria Nongfu Spring uses are looser than national tap water standards in terms of the amount of arsenic and cadmium allowed in the company's products.

Nongfu Spring uses criteria that were set by the government of east China's Zhejiang Province in 2005. National standards were upgraded in 2007, but the manufacturer has yet to update its own quality benchmarks accordingly.

The Zhejiang provincial government standards permit more than five times the amount of arsenic that the national standards allow.

The Zhejiang-based company insisted that its quality standards are higher than the national standards, adding that the scandal was set in motion by the company's rivals.

"We have reason to believe that recent reports targeting Nongfu Spring were created by C'estbon Food & Beverage (Shenzhen) Co., Ltd., " the company said in a statement posted on its official microblog account on Sina Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter.

An investigation by Xinhua found that Nongfu Spring was the only drinking water company to participate in drafting the Zhejiang provincial standards.

C'estbon Food & Beverage denied the charges from Nongfu Spring, saying it has never taken any kind of malicious action against the company.

C'estbon said the accusations are intended to divert public attention away from Nongfu, adding that it has reserved the right to take legal action.

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