GEORGE TOWN: Proper and realistic guidelines on the permissible nitrite level in foodstuff should be drawn up by the governments of Malaysia and China, said Malaysian Federation of Bird’s Nest Merchant Associations secretary Carole Loh.
“It was unfair for China to ask for zero nitrite level in Malaysian bird’s nests to be imported into their country when Malaysia has not imposed a similar requirement on China.
“The World Health Organisation allows a nitrite level of 30 part per million in food products. It is impossible to meet China’s requirement of zero nitrite.
“Although the Chinese authorities have not banned the import of the delicacy from Malaysia, the requirement is as good as a ban,” she said when contacted yesterday.
Loh, who is also Association for Swiftlet Nests Industry president in Penang, said bird’s nests were not eaten raw and must be soaked in water before boiling them for consumption.
“Nitrite is a water soluble chemical which dissolves drastically upon being soaked.”
Two wholesalers who operate hundreds of outlets in Guangzhou, China, have removed Malaysian bird’s nests from their shelves following a directive from the country’s authorities.
When asked about the outcome of investigations into a Penang-based company which sent two staff members to pose as Malaysian government officials in Hangzhou, China, on July 26, Loh said she was not updated on the outcome by the investigations officer after a report was lodged at the Tun H. S. Lee police station on Aug 22.
It was reported that the two — one claiming to be the head of a so-called Malaysia Export Veterinary Inspection Agency and the other the director of a purported Endangered Species Import and Export Agency — had told the Chinese media that blood bird’s nests from Malaysia were genuine.
Veterinary services department director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin had said that they have since come forward to meet with Ministry of Agriculture officers and admitted their wrongdoing on Aug 24.
He had also said that the Ministry of Agriculture was preparing the papers which will be handed over to the Attorney-General to charge the firm and two employees.
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