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U.S. intercepts tainted honey from China

From Jeanne Meserve
CNN Washington Bureau

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- U.S. officials said Wednesday they are checking all bulk shipments of honey from China after the discovery that some contained a potentially harmful antibiotic.

There is no indication any of the honey has reached stores, the Food and Drug Administration said.

The antibiotic -- chloramphenicol, or CAP -- is used to treat life-threatening infections but only when other alternatives are not available. The substance can cause a potentially life-threatening side effect in humans called idiosyncratic aplastic anemia.

China banned the substance in March. U.S. officials said it may have been used to control insect disease by spraying either directly on the bees or on their hives.

The U.S. Customs Service and FDA detained fifty containers of bulk Chinese honey at U.S. ports. The FDA has found none of the contaminated honey on retail shelves.

The presence of the antibiotic was detected during an investigation into whether Chinese honey producers were evading U.S. anti-dumping duties by illegally shipping through third countries.

The investigation has included search warrants executed on businesses and residences in Los Angeles, California; Newark, New Jersey; and Tampa, Florida, as well as in Australia, Malaysia and Thailand.

The Customs Service has blocked all bulk honey imports until the FDA determines whether chloramphenicol is present. If the antibiotic is found, the honey will be detained or seized to ensure it is not used for human or animal consumption.




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