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April 12, 2011

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Steamed buns taken off shelves

Stores have been ordered to take steamed buns from a major Shanghai supplier off the shelves after a TV report said illegal chemicals were being added to cheat customers.

Yellow coloring was used in so-called corn flour buns which actually contained little corn, the report said.

And preservatives were added after old buns past their expiry date were reintroduced in the mix to produce a batch of "new" buns.

Zhang Yusong, an official with Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau, said a city-wide inspection would be launched today.

Last night's China Central Television program claimed that up to 30,000 tainted buns were being sent to hundreds of Shanghai outlets, including Hualian and Lianhua supermarkets, every day.

Expiry date

CCTV said workers at a Shanghai Shenglu Food Co plant in Baoshan District relabeled buns made two days previously with new production dates.

Those that were more than a week over their expiry date, and had been returned by retailers, were thrown back into mixers to make a batch of "new" buns.

Chemicals were added in random amounts, the TV report said, though they didn't appear on the list of ingredients as required by law.

Sodium cyclamate, an artificial sweetener nearly 30 times sweeter than sugar was added, as was potassium sorbate, a food preservative.

A variety of color agents were also used.

"I won't eat it, even if I am hungry. It was dyed and I can't eat it," CCTV quoted one worker as saying.

The worker said they knew how to pass inspections. "We conceal the chemicals when inspectors come, or we will be critically punished," he said.

Raw material

Old and expired buns were used as raw material for fresh produce, the program found.

A worker was spotted dumping more than 20 out-dated buns, two bags of flour and water into a machine to produce the dough to make 150 steamed buns.

Most of the workers didn't wear overalls or gloves during the production process.

"We make 30,000 buns for up to 400 retail stores in the city every day," a worker said.

An employee at a Hualian Supermarket in Putuo District said the bun, priced at 2.7 yuan (41.3 US cents) each, sold well. "It is made of pure flour. How can it contain color agents?" she asked.

An employee at a Lianhua Supermarket in Zhabei District told CCTV reporters to "rest assured about the bun's quality."

An inspector at a storage center of a Dia supermarket in Jiading District said color agents were not tested for. "We only carry out tests for bacteria," he said.


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