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May 31, 2011

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Chefs fined over secret ingredients

CHEFS' secret recipes landed them in the soup after city food watchdogs discovered that the recipes contained illegal additives and fined their restaurants.

And to make the punishment harder to swallow, the unsuspecting eateries had themselves supplied their lists of ingredients to the Shanghai Food and Drug Administration.

Some 34 local catering business have been punished for using illegal food additives in the city's latest crackdown, the FDA said. Officials confiscated 35.72 kilograms of illegal food additives.

Fines in the crackdown totaled 138,000 yuan (US$21,231). This included penalties for improper food processing and fines for other restaurants penalized for poor hygiene.

Shanghai FDA officials said most of the chemicals and food additives were detected through data supplied by restaurants.

Some 6,000 Shanghai eateries were required by the end of May to detail the names and quantities of food additives they used in hot pot, home-made beverages and flavorings.

Some chefs disclosed ingredients of dishes that had been closely guarded secrets, but ended up falling foul of the FDA.

Gu Zhenhua, director of Shanghai FDA's food supervision department, said the watchdog will launch a new campaign today against illegal use of food additives. Restaurants breaking the law will be reported to the police.

"A list of the violators' names will also be released to the public," said Gu.

The authorities will check on restaurants who supplied ingredient lists to determine whether they have reported all additives and test whether these are in line with regulations.

Ingredients checked include "food additives," "essences" and coloring.

However, this does not cover substances that can give pork a beef or mutton-like flavor, as these are considered seasoning not food additives.


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