BEIJING - Chinese retailers pulled eggs off shelves Wednesday and a supplier
was ordered to stop exports, amid fears the toxic threat of the chemical
melamine was far more widespread than first reported.
Dalian city in northeast China said it had imposed an export ban on Hanwei
Group, which sold to Japan and other parts of Asia, after some of its products
were found to contain melamine.
"We have told Hanwei to immediately recall all problem eggs, and we have
halted the company's exports for the time being," said a statement issued by the
city government of Dalian, where Hanwei is based.
The problem emerged over the weekend when Hong Kong authorities said eggs
from Hanwei were tainted with melamine, the same chemical that was mixed into
China's milk products and led to the deaths of four babies.
Officials and China's state-controlled press reported on Wednesday that
eggs from other suppliers had also been found to be contaminated with melamine,
which can give food the appearance of higher protein levels.
Against this backdrop, some supermarkets in Beijing, Shanghai and other
cities announced they were recalling various brands of eggs, although others
appeared unsure what to do with the central government yet to give
A staff member at the Parkson Shopping Centre's supermarket in Beijing said
eggs from Hanwei were no longer on sale.
"We will not put them back until we receive test reports from the company
that show the eggs we have do not have the same problems," she said.
In Shanghai, a spokeswoman for the Lotus Supermarket chain said all the
Kekeda brand of eggs from Hanwei had been removed from all its outlets across
"We are concerned about better protecting consumers' safety," spokeswoman
Xiang Jun said.
Meanwhile, authorities in Hong Kong and the eastern Chinese city of
Hangzhou reported eggs contaminated with melamine had been detected in brands
other than Hanwei, and that they came from different areas of China.
The discovery of melamine in eggs has raised concerns that the chemical
could be infecting much of China's food chain.
Initially, the problem was believed to be isolated to milk and other dairy
In a scandal that made global headlines last month, it emerged melamine,
which is normally used to make plastics, had been routinely mixed into
watered-down Chinese milk to give it the appearance of higher protein
Four babies died of kidney failure and more than 53,000 others fell ill
this year after drinking tainted milk powder and consuming other dairy
The scandal led to governments around the world banning or recalling
Chinese dairy products after many of them were found to contain melamine.
The discovery of the chemical in eggs raised concerns that it could be in
many other Chinese foods, with the suspicion that it was mixed into livestock
feed to also give it the appearance of high protein.
Authorities in Dalian said Wednesday melamine may have been mixed into
chicken feed and led to the contamination of Hanwei's eggs.
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organization in China told AFP on
Tuesday that melamine may be present in a wide range of other farm-raised foods
such as meat and fish.
FAO China programme officer Zhang Zhongjun said the organization had asked
China's agriculture ministry for answers on whether melamine had been mixed into
Premier Wen Jiabao pledged over the weekend that China's food exports would
meet international norms and win the trust of people globally, as he promised
lessons would be learnt from the milk scandal.
But the agriculture ministry and the body in charge of the nation's food
quality have remained silent about the contaminated eggs, leaving some shoppers
confused and angry.
"We are just helpless," Liu Lihe, a 70-year-old-retiree told AFP as she
shopped in a Beijing supermarket.
"I don't feel completely safe whatever food I buy. I don't know what to