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China says its beer is low in formaldehyde.

Chinese government and beer industry spokespeople this week defended its brewing industry from charges of loading beers with potentially cancer-causing formaldehyde, saying domestic beer contained about the same amount of the chemical as imported beers.

"China-made beer is safe to drink," the official Xinhua News Agency said, quoting a recent report from the State Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine.

Xinhua said administration tests on scores of different beer brands showed that Chinese domestic brews contained up to 0.56 parts per million of formaldehyde, compared to up to 0.61 parts per million for imports. "Chinese beer is safe to drink as its one-liter formaldehyde content is much lower than the standard set by the World Heath Organization," Xinhua cited the report as saying.

The report didn't say which imports had been tested, but said the domestic brands tested included best-selling Tsingtao and Yanjing.

Xinhua reported Thursday that one liter of Chinese beer contained, on average, less formaldehyde than one kilogram of chicken, fish or fruit, citing a report from the same government body.

The inspection was prompted by a recent newspaper report claiming 95 percent of Chinese beers contained formaldehyde, despite the practice being banned by Chinese law.

Beijing's Global Times report cited Gu Guoxian, a deputy director of the Chinese Brewery Industry Society, as saying the levels of formaldehyde in beer were unlikely to harm drinkers' health.

Formaldehyde has reportedly been added to beer in many countries, including the United States. Various reasons are given for its use, from its effectiveness as a preservative and killer of bacteria to its usefulness in breaking down particles that form in beer.

The report, widely picked up by provincial newspapers, caused a temporary dip in brewery stock prices, the newspaper Shanghai Daily reported.

Stock in Tsingtao, which is partly owned by America's Anheuser-Busch, fell 2.16 percent on Thursday, the report said.

The paper also said South Korea had temporarily halted imports of Chinese beer and Japan was demanding safety certificates for imported Chinese brews.
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Publication:Modern Brewery Age
Geographic Code:9CHIN
Date:Jul 25, 2005
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