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August 3, 2011

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Noodle chain faces more tests on soup concentrate

CITY authorities are conducting a further test on the safety of Ajisen Ramen products, after initial checks found no banned additives in the liquid concentrate used in the noodle chain's soup.

The fast-food company was last month accused of suggesting its stock was freshly made and of exaggerating its nutritional value. Regulators have started investigating Ajisen Ramen's advertisements for inaccurate promotions.

The Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision has finished an initial check on the concentrate, which was claimed to be made from pork bones, and found no illegal additives, officials said yesterday.

The bureau is currently conducting further tests on the concentrate in terms of food safety and will release the results soon.

Until these results are published, uncertainty remains whether the concentrate is made of real pork bones.

The concentrate was produced by a Shandong Province-based company. The company has a plant in suburban Shanghai and provided the products to Ajisen Ramen on a regular basis.

Ajisen Ramen was fined 780,000 yuan (US$121,174) last year for using an illegal food additive, but failed to notify the public as it was required to do. From January to May 2009, Ajisen produced 4.8 million packs of noodles contaminated by sorbol - a stabilizing agent banned from flour products.

Hong Kong-based Ajisen said in advertisements that its soup was freshly cooked in the kitchen with boiling pork bones.

And the company claimed that a bowl of its noodle soup contained 1,600 milligrams of calcium - 10 times that found in most meat dishes.

Ajisen withdrew the promotions and admitted it calculated the calcium content incorrectly.

If Ajisen is found to have made false claims, the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau would fine it between 10,000 yuan (US$1,511) and 200,000 yuan.

Shares of Hong Kong-listed Ajisen China yesterday tumbled 6.7 percent to close at HK$12.56 (US$1.60), compared to 1.1 percent drop for the benchmark Hang Seng Index. Its share price has been declining since July 27.


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