State-owned pharmacy Beijing Tongrentang has pulled the sale of edible bird’s nests, after high levels of sodium nitrite were found in nests imported from Malaysia, state media reported. Spot checks at 491 stores in Zhejiang Province revealed average content of 4,400 mg of sodium nitrate per kilogram, when the allowed cap is 70 milligrams per kg. The State Administration for Industry and Commerce reported the findings on August 15, and a ban on sales in all Tongrentang stores went into effect on August 17. The government of Malaysia responded with a statement claiming that the products are fake, and were not approved by food safety departments before export. Malaysia is the world’s largest exporter of edible bird’s nests, with 95% going to China.
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