The Chinese brewing industry has made moves to counter claims that formaldehyde is used in the production of Chinese beer. Media reports this week have suggested that many breweries in the country use the chemical as a preservative in their beers.

The China Brewing Industry Association said yesterday (14 July) in a statement that the formaldehyde content in one litre of Chinese beer is lower than in one kilogramme of poultry.

"One litre of Chinese beer contains 0.3 milligrammes of formaldehyde on average, while each kilogramme of foods, including poultry, fish and fruits, contains between 0.5 to 30 milligrammes of formaldehyde, higher than that in Chinese beer," the report said.

Speaking to China Daily, Xiao Derun, director of the beer branch of the China Alcoholic Drinks Industry Association, also countered the reports. "Consumers need to know that the formaldehyde in beer is a different type from that in household chemicals, and this confusion has scared people greatly," he told the paper.

A letter to The Global Times in Beijing last week, claiming to be from an anonymous beer inspector, said that many Chinese breweries were using formaldehyde as an additive.

When asked about the letter, Xiao told the paper: "It is utterly groundless to say this without explaining the facts clearly." Xiao conceded that some Chinese breweries still use formaldehyde, but insisted most of the chemical added during production was no longer in the drink by the time it reached consumers.