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Mills investigated over tainted rice


17:48, May 21, 2013

CHANGSHA, May 21 (Xinhua) -- Three rice mills in central China's Hunan Province are being investigated after rice they produced was found to be contaminated with cadmium last week, local authorities said Tuesday.

Three mills in Youxian County in the city of Zhuzhou were ordered to recall their products and suspend business operations, according to a statement by the county government.

Samples of the rice stored in the mills have been sent to the provincial quality inspection agency for further inspection.

The government said the mills were operating legally and that all of the tainted rice had been collected from local farmers.

A food safety inspection conducted in the first quarter showed that 44.4 percent of rice and rice products in the city of Guangzhou in south China's Guangdong Province contained excessive amounts of cadmium, a carcinogenic industrial chemical, according to a statement published by the Guangzhou Food and Drug Administration on May 16.

The administration revealed that eight samples of the 18 batches of rice and rice products tested positive for cadmium contamination.

Cadmium-tainted rice and rice products have been found in two university cafeterias and two restaurants, the food safety watchdog reported on May 17.

The suppliers of five of the contaminated batches come from Youxian County. Another three contaminated batches came from the city of Hengyang in Hunan and the city of Dongguan in Guangdong.

Experts believe that soil in some rice-producing areas has been contaminated by heavy metals, leading to industrial water pollution. The cities of Zhuzhou and Hengyang are industrial cities located along the Xiangjiang River in Hunan Province.

Hou Yanlin, a soil scientist with the Ministry of Agriculture, said the government should establish a monitoring and early warning system for soil contamination in order to figure out how severe and widespread the pollution is.

Hou also called for expediting the creation of a soil pollution control law.

Gao Shengda, secretary-general of the China Environmental Remediation Industry Alliance, said China should develop targeted soil remediation techniques while bringing in advanced technology from overseas.

The experts warned that since some fertilizers and pesticides can also cause heavy metal pollution, the use of such chemicals should be reduced or avoided altogether.

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