Nitrates in meat blamed in Chinese man's death

By the Associated Press | June 11, 2011 | 2:19 AM EDT

BEIJING (AP) — A state news agency says a Chinese butcher has been sentenced to life in prison for adding industrial grade nitrates to meat blamed in a man's death.

The harsh sentence reflects authorities' efforts to crackdown on widespread chemical contamination of food and other products that has caused repeated health scares in China and blackened the reputation of the country's exports.

Xinhua News Agency reported that Gao Yanjun was sentenced Saturday following the death last year of a man who bought 5 yuan (75 cents) worth of pig intestine at his market stall and then ate it. Authorities determined the dead man had been poisoned.

Xinhua said Gao had illegally added nitrate, which is usually used in fertilizer, to the meat to improve its color and texture.