CHINESE HEALTH AUTHORITIES SEEK OPINION OF THE PUBLIC TO FACILITATE A PROPOSAL THAT WILL PERMIT BAIJU DISTILLERS TO ADD GOLD TO THE DRINK ACROSS THE COUNTRY
The ultimate Chinese alcoholic drink has gained ground in previous years and according to the Ministry of Commerce, 11 high-end brands of Baiju, experienced a fall in sales by 7.2% in 2013. Consequently, plans are been made to improve sales by adding a controversial element to the Baiju that would advertently improve its aesthetic value. About 0.02gm of gold leaf per 1kg of liquor is being considered to be added to the nation’s favourite tipples and this has been a cause for concern as the mainland health authorities are considering giving Baijiu distillers the permit to add edible gold to the spirit.
Public opinion is crucial in making such a decision pertaining to the addition of edible gold to Baiju and that’s why the National Health and Family Planning Commission are seeking thoughts of the public on letting edible gold to be added to the alcoholic drink. This was reported by the Beijing Times. For the proposal to get the nod; at most 0.02 grams would be allowed per every 1kg of liquor.
Although, the use of gold leaf is prohibited for use in liquor under safety protocols an example exists in an alcoholic drink known as “The Spirit of Gold Leaf.” Reported by local media, the spirit was priced at 3,999 yuan (HKS5,000) a bottle at a museum in Nanjing last year. Since reasons for considering the addition of edible gold to Baiju was not stated by the commission, this suggestion puzzled Ma Yong, the deputy president of the White Liquor Commission.
“I can not figure out what effects gold leaf would have in liquor,” Ma said.
The Times quoted a consumer who claimed the appeal was simple. “It looks glittery and it gives us ‘face’. But there’s no difference in taste.”
Spirits containing Taiwan imported gold leaf are sold by Hou Shixiu, sales manager of Xiemen Fujinding Trade Company and are priced at hundreds of Yuan per bottle in her shop but mainland customers are still not comfortable purchasing the drink.
“People can see tiny pieces of gold in the liquor and say they can’t accept it,” she said. Shixiu further went on to explain that many people expressed concerns but they had to be explained to that such items are common in Taiwan.
According to Ruan Guangfeng, a writer for the non-government China Food Information Centre, gold can be added in minute quantities to food and can also be used as colour without causing an adverse effect on health. To further buttress his point, he cited a study by the Food and Agriculture Organisation and World Health Organisation done in the 1970s which claimed that the human body cannot absorb gold.
While the glitter will give Baijiu a facelift many do not think it would be enough to reverse the drinks declining sales amidst the government’s austerity campaign.