Saturday, June 4, 2011

Expiration Dates Being Altered in China

Photo courtesy: the epoch times

It’s no surprise that Chinese perpetually worry about food safety, especially given the drumbeat of news like this: In Beijing and Hunan it was found that the expiration dates on food packaging, including on name-brand foods, are being changed with the help of printing devices and toxic chemicals.

The process of changing the expiration date burned the hands of a female worker in a medium-size food enterprise, reported Netease.

The person in charge at Douqu Food factory in Hunan recently admitted that at the end of May, after factory officials learned that a chemical solution could remove the production date imprinted on packaging, they started changing the dates. They purchased two printers and had two female workers use the corrosive chemical to erase the production dates on expired foods and then apply a new expiration date.

However, the two young women didn’t wear gloves, and within a few days, their skin blistered from the chemical burns. A subsequent dispute with the factory over medical fees exposed the issue to public light.

An investigation into the relabeling practices at the Douqu Food factory revealed the willful change of shelf-life labeling on a range of food packages.

According to an insider, the chemical mix is mainly banana oil (isoamyl acetate) and paint thinner, which can easily remove the expiration date imprinted on plastic bags, tin cans, and cartons. The compound, which is flammable and very toxic, can damage human skin, the lining of the throat, bronchi, lungs, and even the nervous system. It is not meant to be used on food labels.

A staff-member from a well-known food-packaging equipment manufacturer in Beijing stated that many people, from large enterprises to small vendors, are aware of this practice.

Remarking expired foods so they can be sold after their expiration date can lead to a proliferation of bacteria. Once bacteria reach a toxic level, they pose a health threat to humans. Preventing that eventuality is precisely the purpose of expiration dates.

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