Petition seeks ban on China seaweed

Petition seeks ban on China seaweed

The imported dried seaweed sheets used as a key ingredient in soup was found to have 22.88 mg of arsenic -- more than 20 times the safe amount. (Photo by Cheewin Sattha)
The imported dried seaweed sheets used as a key ingredient in soup was found to have 22.88 mg of arsenic -- more than 20 times the safe amount. (Photo by Cheewin Sattha)

The authorities are seeking to have a ready-to-cook seaweed product belonging to a brand imported from China withdrawn from the market after it was found to contain excessive levels of arsenic.

Boonyarit Nipawanit, Mae Sariang assistant district chief in Mae Hong Son, yesterday petitioned authorities of the Damrongtham Centre at the Chiang Mai provincial hall to recall a seaweed product of the Chinese Pla Sakon brand, saying it is not safe for consumption.

He claimed its dried seaweed sheets used as a key ingredient in soup was found to have 22.88 mg of arsenic -- more than 20 times the safe amount -- after the sheets were tested at the Regional Medical Science Centre 1 in Chiang Mai.

The safe level is set at no more than 2 mg of arsenic per kilogramme of food.

Mr Boonyarit also submitted a sample of the seaweed product contaminated with arsenic, which he had collected from a local market in Chiang Mai.

He said residents of the Mae Sariang district in Mae Hong Son had fallen sick after eating food cooked with the seaweed from China. They claimed they had bought the seaweed from a market in Chiang Mai.

The story of the contaminated seaweed was widely shared online, sparking consumer concerns over product safety.

Mr Boonyarit said he had asked officials in Chiang Mai to collect seaweed products from a local fresh market in April and the seaweed of the Pla Sakon brand was found to have 27.4 mg of arsenic.

A re-test was carried out on June 22 at the centre and it was found to contain 22.8 mg of arsenic, he added.

Mr Boonyarit has called on authorities to widen their examination of products imported from China to see whether they have toxic substances.

He has also demanded authorities issue a warning about eating seaweed products.

Officials who received the complaint said the petition will be passed to the public health and commerce authorities in Chiang Mai so they can follow up on the issue.

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