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April 15, 2011

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Officials sorry for buns scandal

SHANGHAI food safety authorities apologized to city residents yesterday for the steamed buns scandal where a local company used dye and excessive amounts of artificial sweetener in the product and relabeled outdated food.

They said the city would be launching a series of inspections of food producers.

Wang Longxing, director of the Shanghai Food Safety Office, said: "I say sorry to local residents, and I should take the responsibility for the buns scandal."

Snack and cooked food manufacturers will be under strict public scrutiny in the wake of the incident where tainted buns produced by the Shanghai Shenglu Food Co Ltd were sold at 10 local supermarkets, including Dia, Lianhua and Hualian chain stores, Wang said.

He said the local authorities will target cooked food sold at all supermarkets during the summer, and restaurants and cafes also will be included in inspections.

Wang said supermarkets should bear some responsibility for the steamed bun scandal, because they should verify the qualifications of a producer before products went on the shelves and they should also check the production process.

Meanwhile, the city is expected to draft rules on the handling of food that has passed its expiry date. At present, supermarkets usually return unsold food to the manufacturer when it nears its expiry date, a practice that creates the possibility that the products are recycled, said Peng Wenhao, vice director of the Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau.

Peng said the new rules were expected to state that if the food and snacks of a supermarket are not sold but have passed their expiry date, the supermarket will be responsible for destroying them.

If they are sent back to the manufacturer then it will be their duty to see that the food is destroyed.

Xia Xina, a deputy to the Shanghai People's Congress, said yesterday that there should be a third party involved in the process in order to ensure that the food is destroyed.

The bureau canceled Shenglu's business license yesterday. On Wednesday, quality authorities canceled its food production certificate.

The bureau yesterday inspected more than 1,370 outlets and didn't find any tainted buns on sale.

Up to yesterday, refunds had been made on purchase of more than 6,000 buns, officials said.

Also yesterday, the Shanghai Bureau of Quality and Technical Supervision said it was inspecting 116 companies producing Chinese snacks in Shanghai.

They included 16 companies producing steamed buns. Their products and raw materials all passed quality tests.


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