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Bird’s nest inspection lab to be set up in China

Ong (right) at the meeting. He says there is an urgent need for the Malaysia-China bird’s nest trade to recover and expand.

NANNING: A national-level bird’s nest inspection laboratory would be set up at the China-Malaysia Qinzhou Industrial Park (CMQIP) in Guangxi province, said Malaysia-China Business Council (MCBC) chairman Tan Sri Ong Ka Ting.

Ong, who led a delegation to attend the 11th Malaysia-China Joint Business Council here, said there is an urgent need for the bird’s nest trade between both countries to recover and expand.

“Both countries have agreed on the export of bird’s nests that have passed the food safety inspection.

“We have researchers on bird’s nests and representatives from bird’s nest traders in this delegation to discuss with CMQIP on the operations of the lab,” Ong, who is also the Prime Minister’s special envoy to China, said.

In July 2011, China imposed a ban on the import of cleaned bird’s nests from Malaysia when they were found to contain excessive level of nitrite.

The ban was lifted in December 2013 and currently, eight Malaysian companies are given the permission to export cleaned bird’s nests.

Before the ban, some 250 tonnes of bird’s nests were exported to China.

Authorities from both countries are now looking at the entry of raw, uncleaned bird’s nests into China.

Malaysian Federation of Bird’s Nest Traders Association president Datuk Lee Kong Heng said the association believed that the establishment of the lab would help accelerate the export of uncleaned bird’s nests to China.

“We need to export uncleaned bird’s nests because we do not have the capacity to process the nests produced by some 60,000 swiftlet houses nationwide,” he said.

The association’s vice-president Liw Chong Liong expressed hope that the lab could contribute to developing various products with the extracts of bird’s nests, providing more ways to use the bird’s nests instead of just consuming them as dietary supplements.

“There will be competition among the China and Malaysia bird’s nest merchants when the raw bird’s nests are allowed to be exported, but with the huge market in China, we believe they will be beneficial to the industry in the long run,” he said.

Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman Medicine and Health Sciences Faculty head of programme Prof Dr Lim Yang Mooi, one of the researchers in the delegation, said the delegation would explore the possibility of collaborating with the bird’s nest lab in CMQIP.

“We will be looking at both upstream and downstream activities, including processing raw bird’s nests and conducting fundamental researches on the medicinal values of bird’s nests,” she said.

CMQIP administrative committee executive deputy director Fan Li said the construction of the lab is near completion and the facility could be put into operations by end-October.

Occupying 55 sq km for a planned population of 500,000, CMQIP is the sister park of the Malaysia-China Kuantan Industrial Park.

This is the first government-to-government mega industrial park project between the two countries. Ong and the delegation would visit QIP today.

by Tho Xin Yi

SOURCE: The Star, 19 September 2014.

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