BEIJING (Reuters) - China has killed more than 5,000 ducks which farmers fed with a dye to make their eggs look redder and fresher, state media said on Friday as the country tackles the latest in a series of food safety scares.
China's food safety watchdog confirmed this week that samples of red-yolked duck eggs sold in some cities were found to contain Sudan II, a cancer-causing red dye, the official China Daily said.
Most of the problematic eggs were imported from northern Hebei province and the eastern coastal province of Shandong.
"Once such eggs are found, no matter whether in wholesale or retail markets or restaurants, they must be destroyed and must not be sold to consumers," state television quoted a regulation issued by the government in the southern boomtown of Guangzhou as saying.
The red-egg case follows a similar scandal in which the Yum Brands Inc.'s Kentucky Fried Chicken restaurants came under scrutiny early last year after Sudan A was found in some of its chicken products in China.
Food security has become a priority issue for China after a series scandals over tainted or counterfeit products.
Chinese media on Thursday reported that a northeast China food processor polished up and sold tonnes of rice, some of it 17 years old, that could be harmful if eaten.
Several years ago, authorities cracked down after discovering rice in eastern China that had been polished with industrial oil to make it more attractive.
Counterfeit milk powder was linked to the death from malnutrition of at least 13 babies in 2004 in the eastern province of Anhui.
Even mooncakes, the mid-autumn festival treat, have come under scrutiny after firms were found to be using the sweet but stale fillings from year-old cakes, rewrapping them in new dough and passing them off as new.
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