China investigates tainted eggs in new food scare

Chinese authorities said Wednesday they were investigating how eggs came to be contaminated with the same industrial chemical at the center of a milk scandal that sickened thousands of babies, as more tainted eggs turned up in Hong Kong and the mainland.

By GILLIAN WONG, Associated Press Writer

The action follows a brand of chicken eggs produced by China‘s leading egg processor Dalian Hanwei Enterprise Group being pulled from some stores in the country after Hong Kong food safety regulators found excessive levels of melamine in eggs from the company.

The widening food scare has exposed the inability of Chinese authorities to keep the food production process clean of melamine, the chemical that sparked the recent dairy crisis, despite official vows to raise food safety standards.

Hanwei’s Web site said that besides the domestic and Hong Kong markets, its egg products are exported to Japan and countries in Southeast Asia.

China’s fresh eggs are mainly exported to the Chinese territories of Hong Kong and Macau, while processed egg products are also sold to Japan and the U.S., according to a February egg market report on the Agriculture Ministry’s Web site, the latest available report.

The government of Dalian, the northeastern port city where Hanwei is based, said in a notice dated Wednesday that it was first alerted to the problem of melamine-tainted eggs more than a month ago — but it did not explain the apparent delay in publicly reporting the problem….

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