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March 16, 2014

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BreadTalk client of firm selling expired food

LEADING bakery chain BreadTalk is reportedly among clients of a food company accused of systematically repackaging out-of-date ingredients and selling them on.

Worm-infested wheatmeal and butter two years past its expiry date were among shocking discoveries made by an undercover reporter at Hangzhou Guangqi Trade Co, in the eastern city of Hangzhou.

The claims were broadcast by the “3.15” news program on China Central Television, marking Consumer Rights Day yesterday.

Hangzhou Guangqi sold on out-of-date imported ingredients, including flour, unsalted butter, pectin and margarine to bakeries and food companies after altering their expiry dates, the program claimed.

A CCTV reporter worked undercover in a Hangzhou Guangqi warehouse following a tip-off.

Among items uncovered was six months out-of-date wheatmeal covered with mold and worms.

The production date was altered from January to November 21 by a worker who said that 100 packages could be sold in a day.

In a refrigeration storage room, the reporter found blocks of butter two years past their expiry date.

Workers tore off, covered over or cleaned off production date tags and applied new ones with bogus production dates, according to the report.

The quality guarantee period on inspection reports were also altered, according to the program.

Hangzhou Guangqi Trade Co supplies ingredients to clients including BreadTalk, CCTV reported.

Substantial presence

The Singapore-based bakery chain has a substantial presence in Shanghai and in 2012 stated an aim to have 550 outlets across China’s mainland this year.

Other Hangzhou Guangqi clients include Hangzhou Meilong Food Co which operates 89 bakeries and Mu Bakery, said the program.

Hangzhou Guangqi bought unsalted butter from Fuji Food Shanghai Co, an imported bakery ingredient wholesale company.

Ding Wei, sales manager of Fuji, said the butter was purchased by the Hangzhou company when near expiry date.

Xu Jinghe, an official with the China Food and Drug Administration, said selling and using expired materials to process food is illegal, and authorities will crack down on such practice.

BreadTalk did not respond to the claims.

The program also turned its focus to complaints of photographers using the Nikon D600, who found their pictures ruined by mysterious black spots.

“There were several black spots in photographs I took, they were very obvious,” Beijing Nikon D600 customer Ren Peng told “3.15.”

The camera, known for its ultra-high resolution and high-quality photographs cost around 10,000 yuan (US$1,612) when launched in 2012.

Photographers said Nikon repair stores Beijing and Hefei in Anhui Province told them the spots were caused by dust getting into the cameras.

But users said they’d never changed the lens, and so were at a loss to see how dust got in.

In February last year, Nikon insisted that dust was to blame and advised customers to take the D600 camera for checks and cleaning. However, owners said this had no effect.

One customer sent the camera for cleaning four times in two months, before a staff member at a store in Ji’nan, Shandong Province, admitted that he could not fix the problem.

The Japanese photography giant said later that it would change the shutter assembly free of charge in a bid to placate customers.

But many complained this failed to solve the problem.

Some users asked for an exchange or a refund, but this was rejected, the program reported.

Nikon said cleaning and changing the shutter assembly are not repairs — and thus not covered by warranty.

Meanwhile, a lawyer in the United States said she had collected information from more than 1,000 D600 owners and found the same product flaw.

US customers planned to file a lawsuit against Nikon.

The program said some US consumers had exchanged the D600 for the D610.

The Shanghai Industrial and Commercial Administrative Bureau said it had received a complaint about Nikon last year, but not on this issue.

The “3.15” show, whose name refers to the date of Consumer Rights Day, has named and shamed a number of prominent companies in the past.

In last year’s show, Apple’s after-sales service in China was highlighted.

And in 2012, it singled out McDonald’s for food safety violations, leading to an apology from the fast food giant.



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