Yiwu market watchdog regulates the sale of betel nut

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The market watchdog in Yiwu city, Zhejiang province is urging food retailers to separate betel nut products and regular foods for sale, financial media Yicai reported on Tuesday.

Called betel or areca nut, the stimulant is considered the fourth most addictive substance in the world after tobacco, alcohol and caffeine. Some have called the habit the “most overlooked” public health problem in the world.

On Monday, chengdu.cn, a website owned by Chengdu Economic Daily, said people from the Yiwu Market Supervision and Administration Authority told it that local authorities had asked food retailers in the province of do not sell betel nut products under food packaging or labels.

Officials with the provincial market watchdog said Zhejiang issued a notification earlier this month to ban the sale of betel nut products as food.

The effect of the notification will be permanent. Now, the Yiwu market watchdog is guiding retailers to remove betel nut products from shelves. If retailers still sell betel nut products after that, they will be punished by the relevant department, chengdu.cn reported.

On Tuesday, Yicai clarified that the officer of the food supervision and administration section of the Yiwu market watchdog told his reporter that this does not mean that betel nut products will not be available in Yiwu.

These products will be sold separately as betel nut products instead of being placed with other foods on the shelves.

So far, Yicai found that many stores and grocers still sell betel nut products. Some said they received no notification about the removal of products from shelves, while others said they received notification and are liquidating their inventory and asking customers who need these products to stock up.

A convenience store owner said he was preparing to pull the products from the shelves and the supplier was allowing him to return some of his existing stock.

Betel nut chewing is widespread throughout Asia and its popularity in parts of China does not seem to be waning. In 2018, more than 60 million Chinese chewed nuts, and that number is thought to continue to grow.

However, chewing the nut carries health risks, and long-term use can lead to dental ulcers, gum degeneration, and cancers of the mouth and esophagus.

On September 10, Chinese singer Fu Song, 36, died of oral cancer. He was claiming on social media that the cancer was caused by chewing betel nut and asking the public to steer clear of it.

The former National Food and Drug Administration listed betel nut as a major carcinogen in 2017.

The Hunan Betel Food Industry Administration banned all betel quid advertising in 2019.

In September last year, China banned the promotion of betel nuts, the addictive seeds of the areca palm, on television, radio and online programs due to their carcinogenic risks.

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