Authorities in central China waited five months before notifying the public that a brand of cooking oil contained excessive carcinogens, a state-run newspaper reported yesterday.
Officials in Hunan Province were trying to “maintain social stability” by not announcing they had recalled Hunan Jinhao Camellia Oil Co’s products in March and April, the China Daily reported.
The firm published an apology this week for failing to inform consumers its products contained excessive amounts of benzoapyrene, a chemical that can cause cancer and other health problems.
It admitted it “did not inform the public about the substandard products in time and did not inform people thoroughly about the recall process.”
Camellia oil is widely used for cooking in China.
Nine batches of the oil totaling 42 tonnes produced from December last year to March were recalled, the company has said.
However, the China Daily said the company announced last month that there was nothing wrong with its products, and that Hunan’s Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision also publicly denied any problems.
A groundswell of rumors and reports about possible risks snowballed on the Chinese Internet, forcing the company and officials to come clean, it said.
The report made no mention of any punishments planned over the scandal.
China has repeatedly pledged to notify the public in a timely and transparent manner of any health risks from product safety scandals, which are common and widely blamed on lax supervision of its giant food industry.