McDonalds to Be Investigated by Chinese Food and Drug Administration

Leave it to the Chinese to begin an investigation of an American company. After the scandal a few years ago with tainted baby formula and dog food, China started taking things very seriously when it comes to food safety and they have now opened an investigation in food practices of McDonalds restaurants operating in the country.

The investigation surrounds two chemical compounds that are used in McDonald’s McNuggets. The story was first broken by the American CNN cable news channel, explaining how McNuggets include two chemicals, one, tertiary butylhydroquinone, or tBHQ is based on petroleum (yes, the same stuff you fill your car up with at the gas station) and is used as a preservative for the chicken treats. The other chemical in question, dimethylpolysiloxane is commonly used in the children’s toy Silly Putty. It is an antifoaming agent which is also commonly found in women’s cosmetics such as facial cream and mascara.

While McDonalds does not deny that the chemicals are present in their Chicken McNuggets, they do say that in the tiny amounts that they are used, the chemicals are completely harmless. Both the United States and Chinese Food and Drug Administration do allow the chemicals in certain amounts (and the chemicals are used in American Chicken McNuggets as well), however the Chinese Food and Drug Administration, unlike their American counterparts have called for an official investigation into the food safety of the McDonalds staple food.

The chemicals are typically permitted to be present in amounts of 10 mg per kilogram for the dimethylpolysiloxane and 0.2 grams per kilogram for tBHQ.

A McDonalds spokesman speaking to Bloomberg News said that the additives were well within the legal limits and that they were perfectly harmless. According to the same Bloomberg News report, McDonalds has ambitious plans for China, having already opened 1,146 stores with plans for 2,000 stores by the year 2013.

Shares of McDonalds Corporation are up more than three points since the beginning of July indicating that investors are clearly not concerned by this latest minor controversy.

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