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Bird's nest move 'good for industry'

By Cheng Yingqi  (China Daily)

08:26, February 27, 2012

BEIJING - Cubilose, a type of bird's nest that is considered a delicacy in China, can't be brought in by travelers or mailed into the country, according to a newly amended list of prohibited items.

The list, jointly issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and the General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine has 16 categories of banned animal and plant products.

Compared with the previous list issued in 1992, the new list has a broader range of banned products, such as leaf tobacco and genetically modified food.

Cubilose (except canned versions) is the highest-profile product on the list.

"The revised list is definitely good for the whole cubilose industry in China, given the chaos that's occurred in the past year," said Alex Leong, a former dealer of Malaysian cubilose in Zhejiang province who became an industry whistle-blower.

For centuries, the Chinese have viewed cubilose, or edible bird's nest, as an expensive dish that could provide health benefits.

In August 2011, quality regulators in Zhejiang province found excessive levels of the carcinogen nitrite in cubilose, with average levels as high as 4,400 mg a kg, far above the ceiling of 70 mg a kg.

The cubilose in this case had been imported from Malaysia. Follow-up investigations in Zhejiang province found that no cubilose met the standards.

"Chinese consumers believe cubilose imported from Indonesia and Malaysia has fewer additives, so imported cubilose used to be popular," Leong said. "But actually, most cubilose has excessive nitrite."

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