China, Malaysia both investigate fake press conference

The Malaysian government is investigating a fake press conference held in Hangzhou under its name and reported on extensively by official Chinese media that has forced Malaysian officials to defend the safety of the country’s edible bird’s nests, a Malaysian agricultural official told the Xinhua News Agency on Wednesday.

Two fake Malaysian government officials held the conference in the capital of Zhejiang Province on July 26 to announce that Malaysian blood-red bird’s nests on the Chinese mainland market could be eaten after hours of soaking to remove the toxic nitrite. The Xinhua News Agency reported the whole story.

If any Malaysian official goes abroad to hold a press conference, he must first notify the Malaysian embassy, Chua said. Action without permission was never allowed.

The Malaysian government organizations and agencies these “officials” claimed to represent do not exist, said Chua Tee Yong, Malaysian vice minister of agriculture.

The Malaysian Ministry of Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry is also investigating identities of the two so-called officials who held the conference.

The Zhejiang Provincial Administration for Industry and Commerce said at a press conference on Monday that the amount of nitrite in local bird’s nests was gravely above the permitted standard and posed a threat to consumers’ health.

Spot checks on the blood-red nests at 491 dealers in Zhejiang found nitrite levels in all samples far exceeded the allowed cap, the Hangzhou-based Qianjiang Evening News reported. The 30,000 tested nests sold on the market were mostly imported from Malaysia.

Edible bird’s nests, made from the secretions of a bird’s salivary glands, are regarded as a delicacy and tonic in some Southeast Asian countries. On the Chinese mainland, each gram of bird’s nests can cost 40 yuan ($6.20).

“Bird’s nest is not essential to health,” said Fan Zhihong, a nutrition expert at China Agricultural University in Beijing Thursday. “Eating bird’s nest is just a way to show off wealth or seek psychological comfort. There is no need to follow suit.

“If such fallacy is not cleared up, some big-spending people will continue to eat bird’s nests even if other chemicals are contained.”

Global Times

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