Baijiu produced by Jiugui Liquor Co. (Photo/CNS)
Alcohol producer Jiugui Liquor Co is disputing claims by a Shanghai-based food testing company that bottles of baijiu sold by Jiugui “contain excessive and toxic plasticizers which could impair male sexual function and even cause liver cancer.”
A reporter for news website 21cbh, acting on a tip-off from company “insiders”, sent four bottles of Jiugui, purchased from an official store in Beijing, to the National Food Quality Supervision and Inspection Centre. The centre refused to check the liquor because that would “require authorization from the production company” (which demonstrates how absolutely useless and ineffective the National Food Quality Supervision and Inspection Centre is and why food safety scandals keep happening).
After being rebuffed by Chinese authorities, 21cbh’s reporter sent the bottles to Intertek Co, a Shanghai based independent food testing centre. Intertek’s test “showed that samples of the liquor contained three plasticizers – diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), diisobutyl phthalate (DIBP) and dibutyl phthalate (DBP).” The DBP in particular was 260% above the levels permitted by official guidelines.
Plasticizers such as those allegedly found in Jiugui can disrupt hormone levels, cause damage to the immune and digestive systems, and even cause liver cancer. Jiugui Vice President Fan Zhen has disputed the findings and refused to order a product recall, claiming that Intertek’s findings did not match those of the national supervisory body.
Zhen claimed that his company did not add plasticizer (which is sometimes used to improve appearance and taste) during the production process, but experts have pointed out that the contaminants may still have found their way into the final product during the distilling process. Nearly all brands of baijiu likely contain unhealthy amounts of plasticizer, according to a report by The Chinese Alcoholic Drinks Association. Though national safety standards allow up to .3 mg/kg, but the recent report found up to 2.32 mg/kg of plasticizer in mainland-produced baijiu.
Shanghaiist would like to point out to producers that baijiu is poisonous enough already without them adding carcinogenic plasticizers.
(Additional reporting by Erik Crouch)