« January 2009 Table of Contents
News Line: China blacklists 17 food additives
List includes carbon monoxide, formaldehyde
- Steven Hedlund
January 01, 2009
China's Ministry of Health in mid-December publish-ed a list
of 17 chemicals and other substances it prohibited for use as
food additives. The move came just a week after the agency
launched a four-month food-safety campaign in the wake of the
melamine-tainted infant formula scandal.
Among listed substances, according to a report from China's
state-run Xinhua News Agency, are boric acid, lye and
formaldehyde, which is added to water used to soak dried
seafood to improve its appearance. Carbon monoxide is also
listed. Some processors use industrial CO to preserve and in
some cases enhance a seafood product's color.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration requires all
CO-treated seafood to be labeled, as it would for any
ingredient, but has taken no official stance on its use. The
agency classifies "tasteless smoke," a wood-smoke-filtration
system that uses less CO than industrial CO methods, as
"generally regarded as safe" (GRAS).
CO critics argue the treatment deceives seafood buyers and
consumers into believing the product is fresher than it really
In testimony submitted to the House Subcommittee on
Oversight and Investigations in November 2007, Michael
Picchietti, president of Regal Springs Trading Co. in
Bradenton, Fla., said on behalf of the American Coalition for
Tilapia that CO-treated frozen tilapia fillets from China will
hurt tilapia's image, because consumers will perceive the
bright pink color as a sign of freshness.
Picchietti added that FDA's GRAS approval for tasteless
smoke has been misconstrued by processors to include the
widespread use of industrial CO on tilapia. - S.H.