Vinegar poisoned with antifreeze kills 11 Chinese at Ramadan meal

 

China's appalling food safety record came under the spotlight again yesterday when vinegar tainted with antifreeze was blamed for the death of 11 people at a Ramadan meal.

The incident is the latest in a list of poisoned foods: pork used in dumplings so full of chemicals it glowed in the dark; bean sprouts full of carcinogens; and rice containing heavy metals.

A six-year-old child was among those who died after eating the end-of-day meal, attended by Muslims from the Turkic Uighur people who make up the majority of the population in the western province of Xinjiang.

Scores of people became ill after eating the vinegar. One remained in hospital last night in a critical condition. The Xinhua news agency reported that an "initial probe shows that villagers ate vinegar from two plastic barrels which were used to contain antifreeze, before feeling sick".

As well as lax food safety standards, accidental contamination is also a problem, caused by low hygiene standards, particularly in rural areas, and weak quality control by regulators.

China is cracking down on food safety standards and the government has said it will give rewards to people who report problems, including the illegal use of additives or sale of meat from diseased animals. There have also been problems with contaminated red wine, bleached mushrooms, fake tofu and recycled cooking oil.

This month, Chinese authorities arrested 2,000 suspects and shut down more than 4,900 businesses as part of a national campaign to crack down on illegal additives in food, after a raft of food safety scares. In 2008, at least six children died and nearly 300,000 fell ill from powdered milk laced with melamine, an industrial compound added to fool inspectors by giving misleadingly high results in protein tests.

Last month a Chinese court handed out long sentences, including a suspended death penalty, to five people involved in producing and selling pork tainted with a poisonous chemical.

Widespread nervousness about food remains. Last year, the health ministry was forced to issue a statement that it had found no evidence contaminated milk powder for babies caused three infant girls to grow breasts. In December, there were fears for the safety of hotpot, a national dish, after reports of a chemical additive, although the fears proved to be groundless.

The latest mass contamination took place in a province where recent weeks have seen revived tensions between the Uighurs and ethnic Han Chinese. Two knife attacks andclashes between Uighurs and police killed more than 30 people in the resource-rich and strategically vital province, which borders Pakistan, Afghanistan and several Central Asian states.

Suggested Topics
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
Arts and Entertainment
Larry David and Rosie Perez in ‘Fish in the Dark’
theatreReview: Had Fish in the Dark been penned by a civilian it would have barely got a reading, let alone £10m advance sales
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Admin / Studio Manager

£17000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This digital production agency ...

Recruitment Genius: Employability Adviser - Welwyn Garden City / Hendon

£23600 - £27500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Employability within this compa...

Recruitment Genius: Web Designer - UI / UX Design

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Web Designer is required to j...

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Manager

£30000 - £100000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organisation based in Pea...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable