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September 27, 2011

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Jail for tainted buns scandal trio

Three people who were responsible for Shanghai's tainted steam buns scandal were jailed for up to nine years yesterday.

They had illegally added dyes during production and recycled product past its expiry date to make new buns.

Ye Weilu, the owner of Shanghai Shenglu Food Co Ltd which made the buns and sold them to local supermarkets, was jailed for nine years and fined 650,000 yuan (US$101,558).

Two former colleagues, Xu Jianming and Xie Weixian, were jailed for five years and fined 200,000 yuan each, Baoshan District People's Court ruled.

Since September 2010 Ye had been buying lemon yellow food coloring and production director Xie had been adding it when making corn buns. Xu, the company's sales manager, then sold the buns to supermarkets. Between October 1, 2010 and April 11, 2011 the company sold buns to the value of 620,917 yuan, the court heard.

In addition, Ye's company would recycle buns returned by supermarkets because the product was past its expiry date or near the end of its shelf life.

China has detained more than 2,000 people, seized tons of tainted products and closed more than 5,000 companies in a five-month crackdown on food safety problems, but the road ahead remains tough, officials said yesterday.

"Our recent campaign has achieved notable success. But this is just a beginning," an official from the State Council's food safety task force told Xinhua news agency.

"We cannot lower our guard or rest up, and must be aware of the complex, long-term nature of the food safety problem and remain on high alert," the official said. "We must keep up the pressure and must not give criminal elements any opportunities."

China has struggled to rein in health safety violations in the unruly and vast food sector.

Since July, Chinese courts have sentenced at least a dozen people to jail, including one person who received a suspended death sentence, for their roles in producing or selling pork tainted with toxic chemicals.

In the latest scandal, police detained 32 people for making and selling tons of cooking oil dredged from gutters and repackaging it as new.

Meanwhile, eight members of a gang who produced sex drugs for sale in Shanghai and elsewhere were jailed for up to two years and 10 months.

The gang began to produce the prescription sex pills in August 2010 and sold them without a license. About 200,000 pills were confiscated when they were arrested, the Shanghai Higher People's Court said yesterday.

The gang, which had its base in Shanghai and operated facilities in Guangdong and Hebei provinces, produced copies of Viagra containing twice as much of its core ingredient than the official product.

Wang Jingwen and Lin Maolin came up with the idea of making the drugs, and Gao Junlei was asked to help with the production. Once the drugs were ready, it was Lin's job to sell them.

Lin was sentenced to two years and 10 months, Wang to two years and nine months and Gao to two years and six months. Five others were also jailed.


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