Top brand cognacs fail quality tests
Cognac from three major producers - Camus, Frapin and Remy Martin - may be on its way back to France after samples tested in China were found to contain excessive toxic plasticizers, according to reports in the French media.
A large quantity of the liquor has now been sealed at ports in Shenzhen in south China, French newspaper Charente Libre said. It didn't detail the number of cases.
The amount of plasticizers in some samples may have reached 30 milligrams per kilogram, it said. That was way above the level allowed in China, which sets the maximum amount of diethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP) at 1.5 milligrams per kilogram, 0.3 for dibutyl phthalate (DBP), and 9 for diisononyl phthalate (DINP).
According to doctors, plasticizers can impair male sexual function and even cause liver cancer if consumed in large amounts.
The newspaper quoted Patrick Piana, CEO of Remy Martin, as saying that the brandy producer's exporting procedures were up to standard.
Insiders at a Chinese wine importer, which was not named, told Chinese media that companies importing liquor were required to submit reports on the level of plasticizers in alcohol after tests by an independent third party.
The French newspaper said that authorities in the town of Cognac had said poor quality plastic pipes could be the reason for the high readings as brandy was highly corrosive.
Entry-exit inspection and quarantine authorities in Shenzhen had no one available to comment.
They referred queries to China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine but no one there was available to comment on the report yesterday.
The report will be of major concern to exporters in France as China has become the biggest market for liquor from the region with the volume of exports continually rising, according to industry insiders.
More than 40 million bottles of cognac currently arrive in China in a year.
Remy Martin is one of the most popular brands of cognac sold in Shanghai, with the most expensive bottles costing more than 20,000 yuan (US$3,225).
In November, Jiugui, a type of Chinese liquor selling for 438 yuan a bottle, was found to contain three plasticizers, one being 260 percent above the permitted level.
Experts said any chemicals in the drink may have come from plastic products, such as pipes or containers, used in the distilling process.
In December, Chinese high-end liquor brand Moutai was embroiled in a similar scandal with reports of a sample of Moutai containing a plasticizer at double the level allowed in China. Subsequent tests were negative.
However, in January there were reports that a bottle of Moutai purchased in the United States contained an excess of DEHP.
The board director of liquor maker Kweichow Moutai Co, Yuan Renguo, has said that plasticizer in liquor is a subject overblown by people with ulterior motives.(Shanghai Daily)