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Food groups seek to quell concerns over yoghurt safety

By Guo Kai (Global Times)

10:27, April 12, 2012

Several industrial associations are trying to quell public concern over the safety of yoghurt and jelly products by releasing clarification statements after two media figures posted messages on their microblogs saying such products are unsafe and contain forbidden additives.

Zhao Pu, a host from China Central Television (CCTV), called on people not to eat old yoghurt on his verified Sina microblog Monday, saying the way it is produced is "horrible" and cannot be revealed.

Meanwhile, Zhu Wenqiang, a reporter with the Economic Observer newspaper, wrote on his microblog account that a CCTV insider said "eating yoghurt is like eating rotten leather shoes."

Reading their posts, Web users speculated that the thickening agent used in yoghurt and jelly products may be industrial gelatin.

Industrial gelatin is made of used leatherwear and is hazardous to human health because it contains heavy metal, according to a report by the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Daily in 2009.

In a bid to quell suspicions, the China Association of Bakery and Confectionery Industry (CABCI) and the China National Confectionery Association (CNCA) both issued statements on their websites Tuesday.

The CABCI denied that the domestic jelly industry uses gelatin in its products, but uses carrageenan instead, saying this can be seen from the list of ingredients shown on the packaging.

The CNCA said that gelatin could be used in jelly products, but the gelatin would easily degrade in acid states, which will affect the products' taste.

It is difficult to distinguish industrial gelatin from food gelatin, said Wu Yongning, a researcher with the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention.

"It's just like putting together industrial salt and edible salt," he said.

Wu told the Global Times that the most important thing is to enhance the authentication of the raw materials and the supervision during the production.

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