Chinese rice mills investigated following reports of large-scale rice contamination

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Authorities are investigating rice mills in southern China following tests that found almost half of the staple grain in one of the country's largest cities was contaminated with a toxic metal.

An official notice Tuesday said mills in Hunan province's Youxian county were ordered to suspend business and recall their products after samples showed excessive cadmium levels. It said the mills had been operating legally and sourced their rice from local farmers.

The government announced over the weekend that 44.4 percent of rice and rice products tested this year in neighboring Guangzhou showed high levels of cadmium. The carcinogenic metal can seriously damage the kidneys and cause other health problems.

China's food supply suffers from tainting by polluted air and water and deliberate faking or adulterating by unscrupulous operators.