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April 14, 2011

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5 detained over tainted steamed buns scandal

Five employees, including director and general manager Ye Weilu, of the Shanghai Shenglu Food Co Ltd have been detained, officials said yesterday, after dye and excessive amounts of artificial sweetener were found in steamed buns produced by the company.

An investigation into the popular food was launched after a TV program exposed production problems. According to China Central Television, old buns were recycled as new and chemicals were added in random amounts during production but not listed on the packaging, as required by law.

The company's food producing certificate has been cancelled.

Officials with the Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision inspected 19 batches of the company's products. Four were found to contain a lemon yellow food coloring which was not allowed in the product and two had excess amounts of artificial sweetener.

The maximum content of sweetener in Chinese-style cakes and buns is 0.65 grams per kilogram, but the buns contained up to 1.1 grams per kilogram, officials said.

The Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau said that up to yesterday, more than 32,220 steamed buns had been removed from shelves and sealed.

Meanwhile, officials are checking other makes of buns on the market but so far no new problems have been found.

Police said Ye told them the recycling of old buns and adding of chemicals had begun in January. Over the past three months, it produced more than 83,710 buns at its plant in Baoshan District, valued at more than 200,000 yuan (US$29,400). Sales manager Xu Jianming told police he sold the buns to 10 supermarkets in the city, including the Dia, Lianhua and Hualian supermarkets.

The five company officials will be appearing in court soon, police said.

Yesterday, consumers lined up in front of Lianhua and Hualian supermarkets to ask for a refund plus compensation for the buns they brought. They can receive compensation of 10 times the price they paid under China's consumer safety laws.

Many stores said they had decided not to sell other makes of steamed buns for a while, as even if they were put on the shelves, there would be no market for them.

"People are scared," said a shop assistant surnamed Wu at the Hualian Supermarket Dalian Road branch in Hongkou District. "Even if we tell them the products are safe, they won't believe it."


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